Open Wi-Fi: Who Is Responsible?

We hear about people connecting to open wireless access points all the time. Sometimes with the owner’s knowledge, more often than not, without. But in the end, who is the responsible party? Should we place blame on one party over the other? Or instead, do we need to accept that both the legalities and protocol for viewing an open access point has yet to come to an agreed upon common ground as of yet?

It’s interesting as wireless has been out for some time now and yet for some reason, none of us appear to have made a whole ton of progress on the front of establishing protocol about using an open network. The best we have thus far is to simply say if it is open, use it. Unfortunately, this may or may not be legal in all areas.

So is this really even an issue? Yes, as the law is so poorly written here in the States that every newbie out there with a notebook ends up being thrilled just to be connected at all while having little knowledge of what they are actually connecting to. Am I all wet here? Should we continue with this connectivity free for all or instead, start cracking down on the uninformed for not locking down their access points? Hit the comments, you decide.

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  • Chrystoph

    Matt,

    I think that this issue needs to be addressed not from the perspective of whether or not it is legal to connect to an “open” access point, but from the perspective that there is already a precedent for holding someone as an accessory for cracking when they have not secured their computer appropriately.

    If a criminal uses your computing resources to commit their crime, and it can be reasonably proved that you were negligent in securing those resources, you can legally become an accessory to the crime.