Popular Science News $section News
  Get Popular Science posters here! > Subscribe | > Newsletter 

What's New
Photo Gallery
Aviation & Space
Automotive Tech
Contact Us
Digital Edition
Customer Service
Gift Subscription
Current Issue
Media Kit
PS Showcase
PopSci Store

Enter e-mail address to receive popsci weekly updates to your inbox.


« Do You Remember Life Before the Segway? | Main | Riot-Ready Super Soaker »


Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Oh that is ridiculous.. WEP anyone? Or are Brits not allowed to use encryption?


It is stealing, in a way. If the owner was not using the connection, what is being "stolen" is somewhat nebulous, however. Consuming idle capacity isn't really stealing. It's much like SETI@Home: Idle capacity is used. One could easily argue that an unsecured network - since it's just a checkbox on installation - is an invitation to use the idle bandwidth.

On the other hand, if the owner was using the connection, then the stealing argument is stronger: The interloper is causing contention when there should be none.

Interesting corner-case: What if the owner is illegally downloading a movie via BitTorrent? Wouldn't it be one's moral duty to impede that illegal activity? Sort-of like tripping a running theif to give the police time to catch him.


It's good that the London police are concentrating on this level of criminal behavior, while ignoring crimes against property and persons (frequently violent ones), preventing English subjects from protecting themselves, and turning a blind eye to "honor" killings.

Yes, they've got the proper focus.


If you leave your WiFi unsecure, using it is about as close to stealing as tuning your car radio into the local radio station....


I believe that you pay for your bandwidth in most of Europe, so if you are using somebody elses bandwidth it would be the same as plugging an electric cord into their house.

TM Lutas

There are people who would and do share bandwidth voluntarily. Laws like this put a real crimp in being a nice guy. Whatever happened to solidarity and community service?


idle compute cycles are not actually free on most modern systems.

EnergyStar regulations require many desktop systems to use various power management techniques to reduce power usage while idle, but a system running a batch compute job like SETI@Home will never be idle; the difference in energy usage is measurable.


well, I wish they'd treat my computer's CPU cycles as my property - and help prosecute those that take over other's computers with viruses, adware, etc....

but using someone's wireless apparently is criminal...


Of course it's stealing, from at least two perspectives.

First, from the perspective of the subscriber, it's like trespass or conversion. Just because I'm not using my front lawn at the moment doesn't mean someone can park their RV and live there. Just because I'm not driving my car while at the office doesn't mean someone can use it during the day. I paid for it. If you want to use it, we can bargain--but you aren't allowed just to help yourself.

Second, from the perspective of the service provider, it's theft of services. Just because you figure out a way to unscramble cable TV signals doesn't entitle you to watch premium channels without paying for them. Although you aren't increasing the cable company's direct costs, you are stealing their service.

It's a bit unsettling how many people don't grasp this intuitively.


I'm sure his "crime" is likened to a bank leaving its vault door open and it still being illegal to go in and help yourself. But the reality is that many Wi-fi hotspots are unsecured and it is ridiculous that its a crime to use that unsecured bandwidth.

Don't want people on your wi-fi? Then freaking implement the security protocols that come with the device.

gamongrel, here, here! That would be putting the law to good use!


"Consuming idle capacity isn't really stealing."

What "idle capacity" are you talking about? The service provider also has to buy capacity. Lets say a service provider has 1000 customers with a 1Mb/sec. connection. Does that mean that the service provider buys a pipe to connect to the Internet that is 1Gb/sec. (1000*1Mb)? Nope. The service provider knows that all 1000 customers will not be using the Internet at the same time. He also knows that the customers that are using the Internet at any given time will not all be using their allotted bandwidth. He knows that not enough bandwidth will make his customers unhappy. He also knows that buying more bandwidth then is needed will cost money and raise the cost of his service to his customers. What happens when people start stealing the customers "idle capacity"? Well, the service provider has to increase the size of his pipe, increasing costs. Who do you think is going to pay for this increased bandwidth?


I used the internet cafe in the McDonalds across the street from Windsor Castle (UK) with no problem whatsoever.

The Monster

If you set up a WAP that broadcasts its ID, does not require any encryption or authentication, and acts as a DHCP server, providing any device that asks with an IP address, netmask, default gateway, and DNS information, it is inviting the general public to participate.

It is quite literally offering free Internet access to anyone who is willing to accept the offer. And most portable computing devices are configured to do so automatically, attempting to use the open WAP with the best signal first.

IANAL, but I remember Professor Kingsfield teaching on The Paper Chase that the elements of contract are offer, acceptance, and consideration. In this scenario, the first two elements appear to be in order. If the service of connecting a computer to the Internet temporarily is held to have any value, then there seems to be consideration as well. And if it does not have value, then nothing of value is being taken.

lisa lofty

Besides worry of the additional documents and data files, which we could not simply store the data because all is private and confidential that related to the business. I am having fear to manage and store our online store. We have to make sure our online store is managed with fully security, so that no data would expose easily.

I just read about the data storage and management system offers by Colocation America. I think their collocation hosting services could help us to manage the data nicely. My boss actually looking to outgrow current IT location and wish to have technology assets that is more cost effective collocation solution for security and convenience.
I wonder is that the Colocation America services which is allow user to stay connected with the power of rock solid infrastructure and 24 hours per day security. I think we better appoint them for the managed services and make sure we have the best security services for our online store.

Anyway, I believe that the server monitoring tools, management tools, security tools, dedicated technicians, formal reports that provides by http://www.colocationamerica.com has the right security solution for us. I hope that they could reach their goal in the server management solutions, which is to help us fully manage our environment to ensure maximum uptime and availability of the site.

for more information visit http://www.colocationamerica.com

Account Deleted

Thanks for this nice article. Wi-Fi is technology is very good and easy to use. Mostly people are trying to use that. And for the convenience of people wi-fi antennas are available in different sizes and shapes. These antennas are made to boost the strength of Wi-Fi signal. For the different types of Wi-Fi antennas you can check http://www.mobilemark.com , it will help you for sure.

new balance

Just wanted to say that you have some awesome content on your website. If it's OK I would like to use some of the information you provided on my webiste. If I link back to your website would it be OK to do so?

keylogger Mac

used the internet cafe in the McDonalds across the street from Windsor Castle (UK) with no problem whatsoever.


Thanks! Great post you have written on "Stealing Wi-Fi in London". Really I can say that your post is very informative, I'll come across your blog again when you will update it with new.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Return to the Blog Index

January 2008
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31

Customer Service
Copyright © 2005 Popular Science
A Time4 Media Company All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.  |  Privacy Policy  |  Site Index