Is it illegal to share broadband internet in the US?

I was wondering if it was illegal to share broadband internet with your neighbors? This could be wired or wireless. With neighbors you know or dont know.

Please, if you can, site some legal documents.

Thank you,

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Ds HaKa4 years ago
I know I'm breaking the rule of forums but you are stealing bandwidth. Also let's say they have a data cap. You are stealing some of the potential browsing they paid for. Either way, I really don't care. The signal's unlocked, so I'm going to use it.
Kiteman9 years ago
If you use a wireless connection without permission, technically it's theft. Precedent in the UK:

"The man arrested at the weekend was cautioned for dishonestly obtaining electronic communications services with intent to avoid payment"

not if its free, if its free they are just giving it away, as in you can have it kind of like starbucks, they give free WiFi
Following what Kiteman said then, if it is free, you have "permission" to use it. :-)
Yes, if it's a public "wifi hotspot", then they are there to be used by anybody that can.

If, however, you are able to pick up a private individual's wifi, and they have neglected to switch on the "key", you are committing an offence (in the UK) if you use it without their permission (see my link, posted June 8th above)
in the US if they didnt put a password then its not an offence
That's like saying "He didn't lock the front door, so it's not burglary."
. If the SSID is being broadcast and WEP/WPA/whatever is not turned on, then, in my book, that is an open invitation. More like opening the front door and posting a sign saying "Free pizza inside. Come on in." My front door doesn't radiate into the neighbors' yards and houses. . I use my neighbor's WiFi when testing laptops, &c. I tried to get him to let me turn off SSID broadcast and turn on security, but he didn't want to - go figure. While I have his permission to use his WiFi for testing, it is technically a violation of the contract with his ISP.
So if the front door is unlocked and you are putting dinner on, anyone who walks/drives by can stop in for free food? Your neighbor probably doesn't want to deal with the security on his computer.
. If I put a welcome sign up (broadcast my SSID), they can. . I'm not saying it's a good thing to use someone else's WiFi without permission, just that if one is going to bombard me with radio waves, I have a right to use those waves as I see fit. If you don't want me using your WiFi, it's up to you to block me. At the very least, don't advertise the fact that you are there and NEVER turn off password/encryption. Even a noobie can handle those tasks. An intermediate user can setup MAC filtering without problems. &c, &c, &c. . > Your neighbor probably doesn't want to deal with the security on his computer. . I think it's more that, in spite of me trying to explain it to him, he just doesn't understand: 1) he's leaving his network wide open and 2) fixing the problem would be transparent to him.
I wish. If you use broadcast cable without paying for it, you get in trouble. If you listen in on someone's cell phone call, you get in trouble. Just because the the radio waves impinge upon you doesn't make them yours. Doesn't make a lot of sense, but that's how the rules were set up. A lot of people chose to be blind. Or, I should say, everyone choses to be blind about some things. You pick and chose what to worry about or you never get a chance to relax.
. The Law be damned! If you don't want me using your radio waves, then keep them off my property. If you purposely throw something in my backyard, it's mine. ;) . If you don't want me to see you nekkid, then don't stand in front of an open window. If you don't want me using your waves, then don't beam them at me. . As I said before, I don't think it's a good thing to use others' WiFi w/o permission. But I also think they should take a certain amount of responsibility to secure their connections if they want to keep things private - I have locks on my doors and curtains on the windows. When I had a wireless router running, I had SSID turned off, WPA turned on, and MAC filtering enabled - not bullet-proof, but it blocked several hack attempts. . Same for cell phones - you should expect someone to be listening in with their scanner (although from what I've heard you can't do that with the newer phones). Might not be legal, but I've seen it happen.
Exactly! if they didnt want me using their radiowaves or wireless internet KEEP IT OFF MY PROPERTY, thank you very much....
Let's put it in a slightly different context. If I take your photo in a public place or from my property, can I use it in any way I want? Even if you would consider it slander (after all, you let the light waves reflect off you and onto my property)? (Think Photoshop and advertising.)
. Last time I checked (25-30 years ago, so it may well be out-of-date), one gives up most rights to privacy when one is in a public place, so, yes, you can take my picture in the park and use it w/o my permission. Judging by what I've seen of the paparazzi, it's still OK. If you alter the pic and publish it, you may be open to a slander/defamation/&c civil suit. . Not sure about when I'm on my property, but I'll stand by my "keep it off of my property if you don't want me looking" policy. That's what fences are for. ;)
The point is that you have let your light waves onto my property, and now I can do whatever I want to them, right? How is this different than your use of any radio signal that enters your property? I'm just checking to see what would happen when the tables are turned (after all, YOUR wifi signal has to go onto someone-else's property to request a response...).
> The point is that you have let your light waves onto my property, and now I can do whatever I want to them, right? . Yes. If I don't want you using my photons, I need to keep them on my property and away from you. That's why I have curtains on my windows. . > I'm just checking to see what would happen when the tables are turned . I made an attempt to make my router private. Someone would have had to go to some trouble to hack my signal. Maybe not a lot of trouble, but they couldn't just auto-connect. I didn't leave the door open and post a "Y'all come on in" sign. . I suppose what I'm trying to say is that leaving your WiFi connection open is tantamount to contributory negligence. No, it's not "right" for someone to piggyback, but if you leave your connection wide open, you get what you deserve. Kinda like leaving your keys in your your new 's ignition with the windows rolled down and expecting it to be there when you return. I can't condone someone stealing that car, but don't expect any sympathy from me, either.
you seem to be doing a good job although, this cant go on forever, lets just let it go, and quit talking, its not going anywhere anyway
Some insurance companies will NOT pay for vandalized cars in repair garages or car lots IF the cars are LOCKED. go figure, eh ?
heh. try to get my password, that'd be funny just to see you try
Personally, I agree completely. But I know that the law doesn't work that way and would rather give a warning than condolences : (
. Yeah. But I feel better, now that I got that off my chest. heehee
It is? I'm a monster, god I always thought it was like a yard sale for free...
thats different, thats theft, this is WIRELESS, not wired, or stealing, they didnt put a password, they didnt care, its free to use, like starbucks
From the article I link to below comes this: The recent arrest of a Florida man on charges of unauthorized use of a wireless network could set legal ground rules for open Wi-Fi access. A man sitting in a Chevy Blazer in a residential neighborhood reportedly was poking around nearby wireless networks in violation of computer crime laws, according to local police. This appears to be the first arrest in which the sole offense was allegedly accessing a wireless network without prior authorization, and it's already being viewed as a probable test case. CNET News.com interviewed legal scholars to ask what rules apply to Wi-Fi (also called 802.1x) hot spots.
how do they get caught does someone have premonitions and check wireless connections?
It is possible that they were "caught in the act" while they suspiciously sat outside the residence in a car with a laptop? *shrug*
I believe he was there for several days in a row.
That would make sense, too.
A wireless network is still a network. This isn't about ethics, it's about the letter of a law that was written by either someone who didn't have the technical background (legislator) or by someone who did (lobbyist/corporation) looking out for their own best interest (pay for your own connection, not use someone else's). If you aren't using your lawn at the time, and don't put up a fence, can I park my car their-since you aren't using it?
I withdraw my earlier comment
Yes, understood...by free I meant also one has permission, that is, they are not exclusive. If one hasn't permission, then it is not free, and vise versa. It is considered an offense here too but not necessarily illegal:

CNET article: WiFi mooching and the law
VIRON Kiteman9 years ago
In the UK they have that with wireless (aerial/antenna) TV also. Still true?
Patrik8 years ago
Interesting choice of words by the original poster.

Of course, you can share broadband internet with your neighbor. Just like you can share your cake with your neighbor.

Mind you, if you were to "share" his cake without his knowledge or permission... well, that's not really called "sharing", is it?
crosman019 years ago
i think it's legal but if you do it 1:nearly nobody knows for sure so if anyone notices they probably won't like call the police. 2:and if they do i think there is like some waver law that if you didn't know you can't be punished.
. Re your second point: Ignorantia juris non excusat is the official public policy in the US.
ahhh latin? am I correct
. You are indeed!. It's the Language of Law (at least in the US).
. And it should have been italicized, not bolded - mea culpa (Yikes! More Latin!).
You studied yourself? I remember very little but the important things like dog stuck..
. Never studied Latin, but have picked some up over the years.
Ah right, I was forced to do it for three years in school, so I resort to talking dirty to my teacher, in latin, which is suprisingly difficult.
A quick trip to Italy would have cured that...
I went, apparently italians understood my filth perfectly well despite the language barrier, and because I was mistaken for italian most of the time (by italians) I started getting the gist of most things they say, I also learnt some rather choice german phrases from two german girls on the trip, including take off your clothes, bitch but that's another story, overall my latin was useless except in the remains of some different places we saw, I translated for our translator to translate in to italian, english, dutch and german all while another translator covered french, portuguese and some other language...
westfw9 years ago
It is probably against the service agreement you have with your internet service provider. Ie, it's essentially a contract violation rather than an explicit law.
. I think it would probably be considered theft of services, in addition to breach of contract. Since it involves interstate commerce, that might kick it up to Federal Court. . If anyone knows for sure, please speak up.
It's illegal access to a computer network, basically falling under hacking laws.
jtobako jtobako8 years ago
Sorry, forgot the "without permission" part : (
westfw jtobako8 years ago
Well, that's the question, isn't it. Who gets to give "permission"? If I tell my neighbor "sure, you can use my wireless router to connect to the internet via my comcast connection" then they have permission, right?
jtobako westfw8 years ago
. Yeppers. If your contract with your ISP does not forbid it, you can share your connection. I've yet to see (or hear of) a contract without that clause.
whatsisface8 years ago
I wonder if it would be illegal to do a kind of "reverse-hacking", where you leave a wireless network open, and when someone tries to connect to it, they get infected with a virus. As far as I see it, they would be the ones in the wrong.
Depends on where you are. New Zealand laws specify computer, but I think US laws refer to networks rather than individual computers.
jtobako8 years ago
Someone was arrested in Florida for parking outside a home and stealing a wifi connection. Not sure if it was local or federal law.

More here.
Im not sure who's sharing with who in your post, but: If it's yours, as long as you didn't sign against it, it's ok. If it's somebody else's, ask them, and if they didn't sign against it, it's ok.