We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Is It Stealing to Use Someone else's Wireless Internet Service?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At EasyTechJunkie, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Using someone else's wireless service is indeed stealing, as it involves using a resource that someone else has paid for without paying for it. It may not always be totally unethical, however, especially if you talk about it with the person, and in some communities, anonymous strangers may actively promote the use of their wireless by leaving the network unprotected and inviting people to use it.

When someone orders wireless service, he or she must invest in a router and be prepared to pay monthly fees for access. Using someone else's wireless service may be free for the user, but not for the person who owns the account. While it can be tempting to take advantage of an unsecured network to save money, there are some disadvantages to using someone else's wireless, both for the owner of the service and the user.

For owners, the clear disadvantage is that when people piggyback on their networks, it eats up bandwidth. This can make Internet service slow for the people who are actually paying for the network, which can be frustrating. In addition, if the service provider has a bandwidth cap or allowance, the service may be cut off if the allowance is exceeded, or an additional sum may be tacked onto the bill. Furthermore, people using the network could potentially access other computers on the network, if their users have set their computers to share data, and this could compromise the integrity of the machines themselves, as well as the data stored on them.

For someone who is using someone else's wireless service, the primary disadvantage is that the service could drop out of cut off suddenly, and the owner of the network may decide to boot piggybackers off the network through the administration software. It also leaves one's computer potentially vulnerable, as detailed above. Furthermore, in some regions, people can be prosecuted for theft of Internet service, and they may be required to pay fines, perform community service, or be penalized in some other way.

Using a wireless network that someone else has set up isn't always necessarily wrong, however. Sometimes, neighbors band together to share service, for example, in which case the bill may be split. When someone is having problems with his Internet service, he might ask a neighbor if he can use hers for a few days while the problem is resolved. In other cases, people who believe that Internet access should be available to all may leave their networks unsecured so that other people can access them.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a EasyTechJunkie researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon976839 — On Nov 06, 2014

A couple of people are claiming that it is acceptable to use another's unsecured wireless network without their knowledge. I strongly disagree, and would put it next to malicious hacking.

The reason for this is that often people are unaware that they need a password, which to many, including myself, suggests blind idiocy, and it's obviously their own fault, I mean it's easy enough to find out about this stuff.

However, I find it incredibly easy to gain unauthorised access to my high school's network, almost as if they didn't have any security. All this because they are unaware of how to stop it, and don't know I can. This is more complex to many, but to others obvious, so should it also be legal?

By anon957286 — On Jun 19, 2014

There is this guy who chats at a website where I do. He hacks and steals wifi all the time, and will laugh and brag about it.

By anon343699 — On Aug 02, 2013

I have a question based *loosely* around this content, but with a technical addendum.

I live in a apartment with no Wifi connectivity, and no way to get it either. However, there is a Cloud connection in the cafe just three doors down to my left, and an O2 Free Wifi connection just to my right. Users are not required to patronise the establishment on the right in order to use the Wifi. It is free and limited by fair usage.

So my question is this: Can I in any way boost the signal from either of these two sources so that I can get one or the other within my apartment? It is frustrating that the Cloud source is just out of reach, if Ii literally hang out of a window, I can get the signal. I thought that a repeater might do it, but I believe that this is not necessarily the case.

By anon310522 — On Dec 24, 2012

@anon259567: My grandparents are in their 70s, and if this happened to them, I'd call them up and teach my grandfather over a video conference. Just because they are old doesn't make them technologically incompetent. My grandfather was a programmer in the navy, my other grandfather has been doing internet related things for years, and surprised me when I discovered he was doing online shopping before I adapted it.

By anon310019 — On Dec 19, 2012

@anon 292067, post #60: If you are on any specific internet connection, if you double click on it, it will become manual instead of automatic and will not connect to this network unless you click on it. Hope this helps.

By anon292067 — On Sep 18, 2012

This is going to sound slightly strange, but I keep accidentally using someone else's wireless and I want to stop. The problem is that my crappy little mobile broadband thingy keeps dropping out, and there's an unsecured (no password) wireless network in my area. My computer seems to go to it automatically when my connection fails. Is there some way to stop it from doing this and/or contacting the owner of the network to tell them to put a password on it? I think I downloaded last week's Dr. Who on someone else's broadband.

By anon271315 — On May 25, 2012

My landlord knocked on my door and asked for my wireless password. He had done me a favor by rototilling a neighbors garden. She has breast cancer, and I thought the garden would be good to keep her occupied.

I was rather appalled, and because of feeling like I owed him one, gave him my password. Since then, (one week) I've had problems with my internet starting and also running slower. I think it was totally wrong for him to ask me for it, as I would never have asked anyone for theirs.

I am ready to change my password, but don't know how to explain it to him. I would love to tell the truth: "I think you're a selfish, greedy person who charges me 850.00 a month rent, (I live alone) which I have paid on time faithfully for two years, and I pay 150.00 a month for internet/phone/cable, which you now want to have for yourself for free."

He could have offered to split the bill. I know it was my fault for giving it to him, but he caught me off guard and right after he did his little favor, which was for a woman who's dying with breast cancer.

By anon263621 — On Apr 25, 2012

There are billions of electromagnetic and wireless signals passing 'through your property' and your body, constantly. We live on a planet in a solar system, in a galaxy, in a universe that is full of energy. You can't turn it off or get away from it. It is natural.

By anon261950 — On Apr 18, 2012

If I am using another login id and password for internet surfing, would it be called a cyber crime?

By anon259567 — On Apr 07, 2012

My parents are in their 60s. They don't know the internet, as some older folks may not. If we who do know use their network without their knowledge, and they can't use it, due to this, do we blame them because they don't know what they're doing or ourselves because we are taking advantage?

Now what if these were your grandparents, and you heard of this happening to them? Then who would you blame?

By anon255171 — On Mar 16, 2012

Lets see if this analogy strikes a few nerves.

My neighbor tom came by and left his play station attached to my television. (internet signal is in my home). Is it illegal for me to turn it on and play a game on it? (piggybacking)

Since he allowed it to be left behind,(thus unsecured) is it now illegal for me to be in possession of it?

Say his son left his skateboard in my garage. Is it illegal or immoral of me to play around on it? It is in my home!

By anon252436 — On Mar 05, 2012

If one were to read their contract with their ISP for residential service one would see that they are not permitted to allow anyone else (other than perhaps a guest visitor in their residence) to use it.

Sharing accounts by wireless, using another's account by wireless, with or without permission (other than the guest in the residence), etc. in most states constitutes theft of service.

In the case of the account holder granting permission, the holder could be charged as a co-conspirator for the theft.

By anon249580 — On Feb 21, 2012

@post 48: How ever you connect wirelessly, if you stay on long enough, your exact position can be triangulated if someone really wants to find you.

By anon246889 — On Feb 11, 2012

People do not invite other people to use their internet. It is probably someone who was not aware of the fact that they have to set a password.

By anon246817 — On Feb 11, 2012

I read this article and agree in principle as well.

As the owner of a wireless network, I think it is crazy to have it unsecured. I recently read a terrible story about a guy in Buffalo. Turns out someone was using his network and downloading child porn. The FBI knocked down his door and arrested him, only to find out later it was someone using his network. That is scary if you ask me.

While talking about this story with a friend, he let me know he uses a product called "who is on my wifi" that would alert him to this activity. Has anyone heard of this?

By anon244714 — On Feb 02, 2012

I'm new to wireless Internet, so I don't know about all the technical stuff or legalities, for that matter. When I got my laptop a few weeks ago, the person I bought it from said that the internet on it is free as long as it's in the air. All I did was click on a connection that didn't need a password. I only had to do this once. Is it legal or not? If not, how can I disconnect my computer?

By anon241708 — On Jan 19, 2012

A thought experiment. A person steals a computer, then connects to an unsecured wireless connection. How can that person be found or tracked if they are engaging in illegal activity? Mind you, this person never logs onto any personal email or engages in any personal interaction that lets others know his or her identity. Is this a "foolproof" way for a criminal to commit crimes over the net?

By anon240376 — On Jan 13, 2012

This is an old issue that has already been resolved by the FCC in regards to receiving satellite television signals, cordless telephones and police scanners.

If it is not scrambled or password protected, you can legally use the signal. When cell phones were first introduced, you could monitor them (and household cordless phones) and it was legal. This was before technology allowed them to scramble the signals.

So it is not illegal if the person hasn't scrambled or password protected the signal.

By anon239364 — On Jan 08, 2012

Post 44: Let's assume that you are talking about radio waves. There is no evidence that these are harmful. If you have any please publish it, preferably in a reputable journal. If you don't have evidence, then what are you talking about?

Not having a tv or radio makes no difference of any kind. The radio waves that make TVs and radios work are going right through you all day, every day, no matter where in the country (or the world) you are.

By anon211808 — On Sep 04, 2011

I was looking for "How to prevent wifi signals from trespassing my property" when i found this site.

You may think my husband and I are weird, but we believe that wifi signal, just like radiowave, electrowave, etc are harmful for our health.

We don't have a tv or radio, and use electronics only when necessary. We use wires to "contain" the harmful signals, waves, etc.

When we bought our house, we spent a lot of time, energy and money to make sure it is quite distant from radio towers, power towers, cell phone towers, etc. But several months ago some of our neighbors started to use wifi. The signals are trespassing our property. I asked them to lower their signal strength, and they said OK, but nothing had changed.

Hacking their account to annoy them by making it slow or forced log off, etc., is too time consuming and compromising our health even more (and it may be illegal too). So how to get rid of these trespassers? As I have mentioned, we've spent a lot on our property; so moving out is not an option, and the same thing may happen again as more and more people are setting up wifi nowadays.

By anon209102 — On Aug 25, 2011

I've read most of the arguments here and this is my opinion. Basically, if you have a wireless network that is unsecured and open to everyone, you should not complain about other people using your network. It is not stealing, you left a service unsecured. These wireless routers that you have to use for a wireless signal come with a manual that generally shows you a step by step process of securing your router. If you choose not to read the manual, that's your problem. If you do not want others to connect, then you would lock it down, no excuse.

Don't complain about your stuff being slower and others using it unless it is locked. If that is a problem, you even already have the internet! It isn't hard to do a search to find out how to lock it online.

Basically, this sums it up. I had my network completely open when I first got it because I didn't know about wireless security. I assume a bunch of other people started playing games and such over my network to where I couldn't play WoW because of the lag. The solution then was to change my settings so they could not access it, which led to me doing a search and setting my router to only allow the devices whose MAC addresses I manually add to be allowed on my network, problem solved.

Yes, people I did not know were connecting to my network when it was unsecured, and that was my issue because I chose not to read the manual and lock it down. These people were not stealing from me, simply because it was my responsibility to find out about and then secure my network, which I had not done then. I basically broadcasted to them: hey look at this free internet access, and they used it, as anyone should assume that it was not a problem.

By anon181205 — On May 28, 2011

I have a question. I recently moved to a new house and had comcast transfer all my info to the new location. They gave me a new modem but I am using the old netgear wireless router I already had. I have been having connection issues so i called comcast. they transferred me to netgear. They told me to give them the serial number and I did that. then they asked me if they were speaking to Laurie Johnson. I have never known a laurie johnson in my life. they said that my router is registered in her name. i have the date she registered it and her email address.

My husband told me that when he set up the router he never registered it. Netgear said that they needed the specific date that I bought it. I don't remember the date and I didn't save the receipt. They won't help me unless I give them that info. What should I do?

By anon165592 — On Apr 05, 2011

So let me ask: if I am outside using my iphone and on the internet am I doing something wrong?

By anon148124 — On Jan 31, 2011

In regards to the 'signal comes onto my property, so I can use them' comment of #39. So, that means you have the right to listen to someone's cell phone call if you have the equipment, because their phone transmits across your property?

To use that internet, you need to send a signal back. So does that mean you can jump on my cell phone signal and make calls and send texts?

Some providers do still charge by bandwidth usage, so your actions could add up to major expenses for that neighbor. Is that supposed to just be "Well, you should've known better, tough luck about that $700 internet bill?"

Most people have at some time or another 'borrowed' wireless internet from someone. Have fun trying to borrow mine (MAC address filtering + No SSID Broadcast + Encryption requiring a network key + you've got to get on my property to be close enough to steal mine now). I love acreage.

By anon143782 — On Jan 17, 2011

@Infiltrator: As a pc user of over 15 years, i am working away from home. Our home Internet had gone down and my wife and i needed to talk (I am approx 3600 miles away from her right now) and she decided to look for an unsecured wireless network to connect to for us to talk, which worked well for a time.

The way i see it is: if it's a wireless network and that signal comes in through my property, i can use it any way i want (it's in my property after all).

Whereas, intentionally hacking is illegal, and unethical, to piggyback off someone else's unsecured network puerly to talk for a hour or two is OK. i would only boot people off if the user identified was using the network for his own gain, i.e., games or constant chat.

By anon136889 — On Dec 24, 2010

If you invest in a router, then protect it or it's free use (open) for anyone. If you lock it and it's hacked for someone to use, it's stealing. I owned a few businesses and we always left a router open for customers to use and one locked for our in-house network.

I also believe if you buy something, it's yours to do with what you wish. Forget the locked phones and all the crap. I pay for it, I own it. --RecS0me

By anon135569 — On Dec 19, 2010

No 17,what a load of twaddle you are spouting. if you took my car when it was locked, that is stealing. If my car was unlocked and no keys were in it and you took it, you stole it.

A car is an asset, but airwaves are not, and it is the responsibility of the owner to put a wep/wpa or wpa2 encryption key on their system.

Morally speaking i can see the reasoning behind "hacking" into someone's wifi. They chose their system set up, so taking the airwaves is on par with listening to a pirate radio station!

Yes, you can crack people's key, but why? if you have the equipment to do so and the equipment to read peoples files or taking somebody's bank / credit card details and using them, that is theft, and the equipment would cost many hundreds of pounds-if not thousands. but innocently using someones unlocked wifi to surf the net, theft? No. --IT Consultant for a well known american firm for 12 years.

By anon135147 — On Dec 17, 2010

are people really this stupid?

I'm not talking about the internet, I'm talking about the comments.

Really? I need to come find you and make some money off you, charge you $140 dollars to put a password on your router. I couldn't believe all the "I don't know how to lock it."

One, put a password on it, numbers and letters.

and if you want it more secure add MAC addresses to the router so that even if someone found out the password they could never connect anyway because that computer's MAC address isn't registered with the router. no more problems after that: ever.

Unless you're an even bigger idiot and forget your password.

By anon131929 — On Dec 04, 2010

my brother-in-law is using my internet and I'm really pissed of about it. and I'm to the point where I'm just going to take his laptop until he starts paying for the internet use. I'm not going to take it anymore so I'm going to solve the problem.

By anon126992 — On Nov 14, 2010

Its stealing no matter if the network is protected or not! If i left my house door unlocked while i was home, would you just walk in and take stuff? Well, you shouldn't even if it is tempting.

Where are your values and respect? If someone else has paid for it, then no under no circumstances should you use it! Go without the net for a while; don't be so pathetic.

By the way i have web encryption and various passwords and security programs, but still my business internet gets used. is that fair?

By anon124817 — On Nov 07, 2010

Using someone else's network could be stealing, but it could also be taking advantage of an opportunity given.

If your wireless network is secured and someone hacks in, then that is stealing because it was secured in the first place to prevent others from gaining access. On the other hand, you can't blame someone for taking advantage of your unsecured network. You gave it to us and we took it. The blame is on you.

You didn't want to deal with people gaining access to your network and when you went and set up your network, all you had to do is ask about the network then we would not have so many problems.

By anon118362 — On Oct 14, 2010

OK so I searched this topic because I just moved into a new place and when I plugged in my computer some network options popped up and I clicked one, not knowing at all that it belongs to someone else.

I am completely computer illiterate and didn't even know I could do this. Well now it's been like four days and I don't know how to even disconnect from a neighbor's service.

I don't want to tick off my new neighbors, but I think my teenage son has been using it. What do I do?

By anon105149 — On Aug 19, 2010

It's not stealing. Once again, it's your own damn fault!

Secure your own Internet. If McDonalds gave away free mini ice cream cones and you decide to go get one, it's not considered stealing.

By anon82797 — On May 07, 2010

Have some understanding that most people are not technically knowledgeable enough to know about internet theft or passwords, etc. I pay $42 a month for Clear broadband service to my PC. Lately I have noticed the speed has slowed considerably. I live in an apartment complex. We are not a free 'hot spot'.

A few days ago, I learned that a community action group has been setting up many residents PC's for free wireless broadband. They put a "box" in their windows (like my Clearwire service). The "box" connects wirelessly to their PC. I don't understand what is going on, and would like feed back.

I don't understand how it's possible for someone to piggyback on my internet service. Can they intercept it as it travels between the cell towers and my router box?

By anon78147 — On Apr 17, 2010

Trela: Was his wireless set up by a trusted ISP? If not could it be the person who set it up? It seems that who ever is doing it knows a lot about hacking in. He probably lives around the neighborhood, never goes out much (since he's getting free movies).

Maybe your cousin had his security down for a second, and someone, somehow got through (?)

This happened to me once through on my PC. One day, I noticed it acting up on me. So when I took it to my computer tech, who's been doing all computer aspects for over 20 years, he thought I was using a torrent to 'snag' free movies/CDs. I said I wasn't, that I didn't even know what it was at the time. Some idiot was trying to download movies using my laptop!

He wiped out the viruses, the torrent, cleaned the registry. I even think a rootkit made it through my system, which took him an hour to get rid of. God, I hate those things like you wouldn't believe! Pop ups come up all the time, warnings, buzzers. Just a scam to scare people into thinking they have a virus and buy the anti-virus software from the people that created it in the first place. Arrghh!

If I were your cousin, (name here) I'd keep asking around like those tech guys who are truly knowledgeable on pc's. Ones like the Geek Patrol, or whatever their damn names are (those nerds sure know how to make money. Don't they?) Just have him ask around, that's all.

Don't have him invite them over to look at it or anything, unless he can trust them 100 percent. Also ask him if he's got a decent fire wall system or an all-in-one antivirus/malware/anti root software program in his 'rig.' If not, after he installs it, have him remove any existing antivirus-type programs from his pc if and when it tells him to.

I guess it's a conflict of interest problem. This can sometimes ruin an OS. And tell him never install the A-V program, and then change the start up password without writing it down, first. My HD crashed and burned, big time.

I know the economy is touch right now, but he has to stay vigilant against this criminal(s). He/they should be thrown in jail just like the ones that steal the movies from department stores. Lock him/them up, throw away the key, and take all those ill-gotten items and his/their computer(s) away.

Anyway, I hope any of this will help your cousin and anyone else with this ongoing (or is it over?) nightmare.

By anon73860 — On Mar 29, 2010

Put a very strong network key on your network.

By anon73475 — On Mar 27, 2010

how do I stop others from accessing my wireless service?

By anon72341 — On Mar 22, 2010

I will set you straight! If you get a signal use it. No hacking involved. If its locked, you don't and should not use it. Period. If you want your conversation private, take it private! If I overhear it, then it's not stealing!

By trela — On Feb 22, 2010

I came across this site while searching for a way to stop someone from accessing an internet connection and frankly I'm disgusted! If you want an internet connection, pay for it yourself! Don't steal someone else's.

My cousin has had his internet hacked by some idiot for the last few months. He has set and reset the passwords over and over and yet they still get in. It's not so much the fact that they can connect to the net via his service but the fact that he has a 25GB download limit and within a few days this 'leech' has used his usage to download movies leaving him with less than 1GB to use for the rest of the month. Explain to me how that is fair?

By anon62053 — On Jan 24, 2010

If there is a password to the router and you have 'hacked in' without permission, then it certainly is stealing.

I had this happen to me and I resent paying for a service when somebody else came along and hacked my password, getting the service for free. If there is a signal with no password, then that is different. There is the problem of shared computers using the network and potentially compromising my computers.

I have two laptops that I have sharing activated on. The person stealing my signal also had access to my music and photographs without my permission. This is wrong and we should be able to prosecute.

By anon61991 — On Jan 24, 2010

My take on any "stealing" remarks. If you're throwing the bone through my roof then I'm going to use it. I'm not going to throw the bone back so that you can keep throwing it back in my house. If it's an issue for you, then fix the problem.

Stop throwing the bone (password on your router/hide it). Anyway, theft is wrongfully taking something that's not yours. If you're placing your signal in my home or car then I'm not taking it, you're giving it to me or letting me use it.

Also, whatever happened to lending a hand to someone in need, especially with the economic crisis? Honestly, most people that can afford something don't have a problem with paying for it. And the car analogy -- that's funny, and totally has nothing to do with what's going on. Because if someone drove a car through my walls, it would be them getting prosecuted, not me, and that's exactly what's going on with wireless.

And about the 16 year old -- what if her parents lost their jobs (economic crisis) and didn't have an extra buck for the internet? She sees the opportunity to do her homework conveniently and maybe a little playing around to escape now because "jb john linksys" got a full signal somewhere that came into their home. She uses it and she should be prosecuted jail or fine. It's her fault, it's not the other person's responsibility. That's a bunch of garbage and you all know it. And that's why all of our prisons are releasing murderers and rapists, because of overcrowding.

Don't put something you don't want in someone else's house if you don't want them to use it, plain and simple. And #16, you're right: the signal is trespassing

By anon59272 — On Jan 07, 2010

Everyone has their opinions on using a signal broadcasted in the air unsecured is illegal but they cannot quote the law? Please tell me what the fine and law is and where can I find all the details?

Why can't you? Because it is not illegal if you're not hacking. According to the FCC, you are able to receive all of these signals just like your able to detect laser, radar, etc.

As long as you're not hacking, you're not breaking the law. I invite you to show me these mythical laws. If you do not want anyone to use your internet then protect it.

Oh, and please stop with your ethical examples that have no relevance. This is a unprotected broadcast signal that you are broadcasting in the air for free to anyone. If it was illegal, when you tried to connect, it would ask you if this is your purchased internet, if not and you connect you will be persecuted under this law. Oh -- what law is that?

By anon56112 — On Dec 12, 2009

where can you get internet for your laptop and how much would it cost?

By anon55753 — On Dec 09, 2009

Taking something you did not pay for (or was voluntarily given to you) is stealing. You can justify it all day long in your own head, but it is still stealing. What if I 'borrowed' your car while you were not using it? Hey! you weren't using it at the time, so it's not stealing according to your logic.

Now, let's see who my comment will bring out of the woodwork! Bring 'em on!

By anon49209 — On Oct 18, 2009

I do not think you can classify using a signal that is penetrating the walls of you home as stealing. After all the signal is actually trespassing.

By anon45218 — On Sep 14, 2009

it is not stealing because the people from whom you are getting internet can still use it.

By anon42147 — On Aug 19, 2009

Are Smartphones as easy to trace as laptops for accessing? a person stood around or sat around on the floor or a wall on a laptop would be easily noticeable as up to something, though on a smartphone, with a keyboard like some have, they could be simply seen by the officer, and if done cleverly, proven by the individual, that they were texting and that no harm was done.

By anon31113 — On Apr 29, 2009

If someone does not want someone else to use their internet then they should just lock it. It is not hard.

By anon30476 — On Apr 20, 2009

Guess what? We all know what stealing is and for the people who don't like it, protect your internet. Because possession is only 9/10 of the law.

By Boo — On Apr 14, 2009

Who's responsibility to secure there networks ummm the person who pays the bills? Yes-If i went out and left my car keys outside my car and told the insurance company "hi i left my keys outside my car and my car has disappeared" they would 100% tell me that it's my fault why the car has gone and give me a fat 0 - so wireless network piggybacking is sort of the bill payer's responsibility...when you buy a wireless home hub - there's a manual and if your clever enough to read it then you will find that securing your network is a good idea It frustrates me that people moan about neighbours piggybacking when it's your computer and your internet. Piggybacking off internet is useful. It's their responsibility (i have my own internet, secured in every sort of way) the one main thing that people worry about is people downloading inappropriate conduct, but if you secure it then you don't get into those situations! If you have an unsecured network then i would recommend that you lock it up because of that reason, but if you moan about internet speeds then your getting what you asked for! Moan back at me if you want :-)

By anon30080 — On Apr 13, 2009

I bought a new pc desktop and it was wireless and when i went to use it, it went online automatically. I have no server. Someone told me it's free air and I am not stealing it. I can't stop the pc from going online. It says connected. If the neighbor doesn't want anyone on it then I guess they need to protect themselves with a password. Not my fault. Don't know what house it is. Sorry but its free in the air. Not stealing unless I had to do something to get it.

By anon28585 — On Mar 19, 2009

jjshapiro, I can't agree with your argument. For one thing, you admit that you assume, not know, that the person whose Internet you are stealing is asleep. If they are asleep, then you are not bogging down their system. You could easily be stealing from the guy who works 2nd shift and only gets online after work. Or the teenager who likes to stay up late. Unless you *know* (no guessing, no assuming, know it's) that you aren't having an adverse effect on a person's property, you shouldn't really be doing it. If you *know* that they are asleep then you probably know exactly who this person is, in which case you should wait until you ask.

Furthermore, if you don't want to ask someone to use it because you're afraid that they'll say no because they won't see you as trustworthy or honest. then you *do not have good intentions.* You're like the sixteen year old that sneaks out of the house because Mommy or Daddy probably won't let her spend the night at her boyfriend's house.

Admit that you're just being selfish and greedy. If it was about the service and *not* about the money, you'd just tether your phone. Next time you try to rationalize your actions, do it like an adult, not a teenager.

By ibamisfit — On Jan 22, 2009

oh please jjshapiro...not the "they're probably asleep and if I knocked to ask permission to use their internet they might be frightened crap" every one of your excuses was completely annoying to me...I have a very limited income and pay $45 a month for internet...if I knew someone was using my service while driving down the street in their ESCALADE or other expensive vehicle, on their brand new lap top I believe I would do my best to damage their car as they went by...that's how people like you afford nice computers, etc. because you rip other people off in one way or another...I had spent over a hundred dollars on a lynksis (not sure of the spelling) router with the boost for my son to use upstairs...he could never get on and say play an online game because he would get cut off all the time...I don't know much about how these things work but he does and all the problems were because of the neighbors and their large powerful antennas, etc. it was ridiculous...sorry to say anything but every excuse I read in favor of stealing internet service "because there was no other way for me to get online" made me feel very violent! wait till you get home or to the hotel (which most hotels offer internet service now) if its life or death...use your blackberry!

By anon23128 — On Dec 16, 2008

If you know what the word self-aggrandizement means, you know that it doesn't exactly apply to mr. shapiro. Seems to me that he's rationalizing. The important thing here is that, in order for the argument to be made that he is stealing at all, you've got to create some distinctions among different kinds of resources. Using someone's wireless without their consent is not the same thing as breaking into someone's car or breaking into someone's house and eating his or her food. These are all "resources," but infringements upon each have very different consequences.

By rleroygordon — On Aug 22, 2008

The term for jjshapiro's comments is "self-aggrandizement." The writer can offer as many explanations and justifications and excuses as they'd like, but it's still totally wrong. So he does us the favor of repeatedly using the word "stealing". This, of course makes it all right: "Oh, well I know it's stealing but I'd try to find the owner if I could but I can't so I have to steal." Rubbish! Believe me, if someone was “stealing” like this from jjshapiro, he’d be complaining. "Reliable and honest?" Not by a long-shot. Reliable means trustworthy and dependable -- taking the responsibility of either finding an honest way of getting on the 'net, or doing without, however inconvenient that might be. And honest means not stealing -- however much someone might believe that their "honesty" somehow justifies their actions.

By screenwriter — On Aug 16, 2008

Every thief once caught asks some version of that same question. Oh! Was I stealing? Me for one ain't buying; every thief is a liar, if only out of necessity!

By anon16812 — On Aug 15, 2008

How would jjshapiro feel if someone who didn't have their own car nearby just took jjshapiro's and used it just because they knew how to get into it and start it? Or how would jjshapiro feel if someone broke into jjshapiro's home while no one was there and used food from the fridge, the bed and the bathroom? In both these examples the person making use of jjshapiro's resources could claim that, at the time, they didn't have access to their own car or home. However, they would have options: public transport, cab or hotel being but three examples. jjshapiro when away from home has other ways of connecting to the internet; internet cafes being but one example. jjshapiro, it's time you stopped justifying your theft, and instead applied your thoughts and energies to either finding honest ways to access the internet or learn how to live without it while you are away from home. --posted by someone who is using their own wireless

By anon16796 — On Aug 15, 2008

it's a negative externality. some one is paying the money, and an unknown party is getting benefits. when flowers bloom in my garden which are pollinated by bees, my neighbors hive is getting expanded full of honey. money for him but his bees are pollinating unknown to my neighbor. that's how educated insects behave but my neighbor never look at my face because he has a fear that i would ask some help for him. -Tissa

By jjshapiro — On Aug 15, 2008

I agree with this article in principle. But it doesn't cover the main situation in which I piggyback or steal someone else's wireless Internet access: when I am traveling and am in situations where I have no obvious way of connecting to the Internet but discover someone else's unsecured wireless network and have no idea whose it is or how I would contact the person to ask them if they would permit me to use their Internet connection or tell them that I was using it. For example, this very minute I'm stealing someone's wireless Internet connection, and, while most likely they are asleep and I'm not slowing down their own usage, I don't know who or where they are or how to contact them to ask them if I could pay them while I'm in my current location for a week. Also, I imagine that many people would act frightened if someone knocked on their door and asked for permission to use their service. And, since I'm a stranger, there would be no way for them to know that I'm a reliable and honest person, that I would never try to break into their system even if I knew how, and so on. So I think that, in order to be complete, your article ought to address this sort of situation.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.