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Your Take: Using Unprotected Wi-Fi Hotspots

How many times have you hopped onto an unprotected wireless access point? I don’t mean the ones that are open to the public, like at Panera, McDonald’s, or Starbucks. I mean someone’s personal home internet that they left unprotected, unpassworded. I haven’t done it in a long time, the last time was probably on a trip to Pittsburgh over ten years ago and it was a matter of convenience. I forget where I was but it was a residential area and I wanted to get online…. someone left their wifi unprotected (as often happened in college) and I could surf the web for free.

Some could call it stealing. Others would compare it to reading a newspaper that someone just threw out. Where do you stand?

I was reminded of this when I read a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article about Devicescape [3], a company that build technology that detects nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and connects if it’s publicly available. The article talked about working with cell phone companies so that the phones use Wi-Fi rather than the cellular network. In essence, subscribers are stealing wireless without their own knowledge!

What’s your take on using other’s unprotected wi-fi without their permission and of technology like this, which invisibly uses free wi-fi whenever available, without the user’s knowledge?

(Photo: markjsebastian [4])