Crimes of Opportunity

| | Right | August 8, 2008

Me: “What seems to be the problem?”

Young customer: “My wireless connection isn’t working. Can you take a look at it?”

Me: “Sure, no problem.”

(I get his laptop set-up and test the wireless. It picks up the store wireless with no problem.)

Me: “Well, pal it looks like your laptop is working just fine. It’s possible that it could be your router that’s the problem.”

Young customer: “I don’t have a router. I was just using a neighbor’s. They left and all the other signals are weak or locked.”

Me: “Then there is not a lot I can do for you, pal.”

Young customer: “Can’t you sell me a new wireless card so I can get a better signal?”

Me: “Yeah, sure, but that’s illegal.¬†It’s considered theft of services to use someone’s connection without their permission.”

Young customer: “No, it’s not.¬†If they didn’t want people using it, they would lock it.”

Me: “Yes, yes it is illegal. If I was to steal your car because you left it unlocked, and got caught. I would still go to jail.”

Young customer: “That’s different.”

Me: *sigh* “Sure it is. You have a nice day.”

Young customer: *storms off*

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  • Trillium

    That IS different. You don’t need a message to know that unprotected WiFi in a cafe or airport or wherever is free for all.
    If you don’t put password on your WiFi you’re just giving it away freely.

    That’s from moral standpoint at least. But I’m pretty sure even a legal case could be made.

    • Scott O

      No, it’s not different. I have no idea why this is so hard for some people.
      If I pay for something, it’s mine. If you take it without my permission, that’s stealing. This really, really isn’t complicated.

      • Trillium

        If I leave an umbrella on a bus, I don’t get to complain that someone “stole it”.
        Not protecting your wifi is like leaving personal belongings in a public place.

        • Neil Fairweather

          No, but you get to ask for it back. Irresponsibility doesn’t mean you lose your rights as owner.

          I actually agree with you that it is different. If you can make use of something of mine, in situ, without affecting my use of it, then if I choose not to secure it then that’s because I don’t mind you using it. If I leave something somewhere because my hands are full, then when I return for it I don’t expect anyone to claim that I surrendered my right not to have anyone take it away.

          However, that’s moral. Making a legal case for implied permission is a lot harder.