Thursday, October 06, 2005

Could you give me a lift?

In my last entry, I should have added that I was posting to my blog while I was sitting in the waiting room. How did I get internet access? I searched for an open wireless network and found one that was unencrypted and had internet access. So I piggy-backed on to that network. So the question is, is there anything wrong with doing that? Is it immoral to get into someone's network and use their bandwidth to access the internet? What do you think?


Map said...

I am tormented by the same question since January 2005, when I moved to SF. 99% of the time I use somebody's WiFi connection, here and there and there too -- there are almost always an unencrypted connection available. Of course, soon the problem will be solved, because the mayor of San Francisco has a plan to cover the whole city with free Wi-Fi Internet. Google already applied. :-) But so far I am interested in ethical and legal implications.

Scott Carson said...


There was an interesting story about this on NPR a couple of months ago. The asked the resident "ethicist" the very same question, and he argued that it's perfectly OK as long as it is not costing the other person anything for you to be piggy-backing on their wireless. He compared it to hearing someone else's music (say, on the bus or someplace) when you don't own your own radio.

I'm not sure I would agree, but it's a place to start thinking about it.


Elblog said...

If your neighbor leaves a plate of cookies sitting on their porch, is it o.k. to take one? Is it o.k. to swim in his pool when he's gone on vacation? Not the best analogies, I know. Having said that. . .
Being the anal retentive paranoid that I am, I wouldn't set up a wireless network without encrypting it, to me not doing so is tantamount to an invitation. . . I'm thinking that if no harm is being done, it's o.k. in that sense. Is there inherent danger from benefiting from the ignorance of others? How does one know if it is truly ignorance, or an invitation? Sigh.