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RE: Interesting Ruling Regarding WiFi access
From: Mike Messick <mikem () tridigitalenterprises com>
Date: Sat, 2 Jun 2007 18:41:23 -0800 (AKDT)

Mike Messick           Dona nobis pacem          rm -rf /bin/laden
PGP Key Fingerprint:                       email: mikem () alaska net 
2048/0x57318496 053B 412B 82FC 3808 E141  CDCD 74AE 01C5 5731 8496

On 1 Jun 2007 cwright () bdosyd com au wrote:

I fail to see how this is difficult to understand. The "free wireless" is not free and is not "public". The service 
is not an altruistic attempt to give Internet access to all people in the city; rather it is a marketing opportunity 
for the café.

They are offering a service, “stay and use our café, drink our coffee and the service is included as a part of the 
deal” so to say. This is – they are not offering the Internet connection to people who do not use the café.

If you find a power point do you think that you have the right to arbitrarily connect to it and use free electricity? 
Do you think that you have the right to arbitrarily connect a hose to a city water main and fill a water tanker for 
free? These are all the same principles. Why people think that the Internet, computers and networking are a special 
law all to their own I will never understand.

Basically, you need to have permission. 

This is either explicit permission – a banner or other means categorically states that you can use the service. Or 
you need to have implied permission such as being a patron of the café in this example. 

Hmmm, I'm not sure I agree with this statement.  It assumes that the wifi
providers truly do intend to use it as a marketing tool as opposed to just
general goodwill in providing wifi access.

I have an AP installed at my house that I've intentionally boosted
(amplified) so that anyone and everyone within range can use it.  In fact,
it's now visible throught a large portion of the community in which I
live.  If someone uses my wifi without express or implied permission, am I
a victim even if I don't want to be a victim?  Without a victim, is there
a crime?  (I don't mean these questions rhetorically - I'm not a lawyer
and don't pretend to be one either.)

NOW, you're quit right about the power.  If someone comes onto my private
property and plugs into a physical outlet attached to my building, well,
that's an entirely different matter really.  They had to intentionally
touch my building, on my property.  I might get offended and even annoyed.
If they're lucky, I call the troopers.  ;-)

Accessing the property of another always requires some for of permission of it is a trespass. There may be defences 
to the act of trespass which stop you getting into trouble, but it is still a trespass. An example, you see a fire 
and a person in a house. You break down the door and run in to get the person. You have technically committed a 
trespass – but the circumstances are such that the need overrides the trespass. The same goes for computers. I do not 
however see many cases (and have thus far seen none) where a computer break-in could be justified.

To use the property of another – this includes computers, the Internet pipe etc – you need to have “license” to do 
so. License is a legal word or art. It means that you have a right to use something. By default, you do not have a 
right to use another’s property. To do this, it must be licensed for your use. In the case of the café, the right to 
use the wireless pipe is contingent on being a customer or patron of the café. 

This is not anything new. The common law of license goes back in this form to the 16th Century. Statute just makes it 
easier to have the police understand the law. The simple thing is that you are doing something illegal any time you 
assume the rights of another without permission.

Here I completely agree with you. 


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