How bad is it to steal WiFi?

I had an "air stick" from T-mobile but as my work thins........ I cut my bills........ I have 9 WiFi signals........ How bad is this?  Is this a criminal act?  This has to be a sort of theft....... but is it punishable? 

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Legality aside (as I think it's a bit of an untested grey area depending on state or country and you would be very unlucky to be caught anyway)... I think it's helpful to ask the question "Is my usage of this network costing the owner money?" or "Am I affecting the owners internet usage?". If you don't know the answers to those questions then, you really should avoid using them. Depending on the network owner's ISP contract (unlimited throughput, or pay per GB etc) it can be more like taking money from them... I think most of us from time to time will use an unsecured network to check emails when we are in a pinch... but should we be maxing out their throughput limits and the like? It's not really about the law... personally, it's more about the principle of "is my usage of this network costing someone more or limiting their own usage"

Another thing to remember is that unless you utilise encryption (ssl, ssh, vpn etc)... then your traffic is open for all to see (some wifi networks are open for the express purpose of gaining your private details)...
Very nice!
Excellent answer!
If it's unsecured just use it man,if they are so obtuse about the need for encryption they are basically inviting everyone to use it.And really in the end it's not like they are going to catch you.
seandogue6 years ago
As long as you're using public (ie, free nodes like coffee shops, edu provided community etc.) nodes you're fine.

When you start using people's private networks without their consent, then you're breaking the law.

It's as simple as that. No more no less.
orksecurity6 years ago
If you're using a hotspot that you do not have permission to use, It is, and can be prosecuted as, Theft Of Services. It's no more legal, or ethical, than walking into someone's house because they didn't bother locking the door.

Either get permission, or pay for your own, or suffer with the inconvenience of having to go somewhere that you can get permission. If it isn't worth paying for, live without; if you can't live without, it's worth paying for.

If you're on a tight budget, dial-up is slow by comparison to broadband, but is cheap and is plenty fast enough for e-mail and most browsing and many games. And DSL may be available for not much more than dial-up, if you're within the critical radius from a switching station.

If you can figure out who the routers belong to, try asking permission. Some people deliberately leave their routers open for use by guests, or even set up a second router specifically for that purpose, and might be willing to let you use it for a while. But don't presume -- knock on the door and ask.
Kiteman6 years ago
Ease your conscience by sticking to free wi-fi hotspots, such as McDonalds or many other fast food joints.

(You don't have to go inside...)
Starbucks (at least in the U.S.), and many major airports.
And some libraries.
blkhawk6 years ago
I believe that it is a victimless crime. Go ahead! If someone does not want others using their network they could easily secure it with password protection. No one dies and no one gets hurt.