Sunday, November 12, 2006

Piggybacking on other's WiFi: We are all serial offenders!

A teen here in Singapore is facing up to 3 years in prison for piggybacking his neighbour's wireless internet access. From IHT:
A Singapore teenager has been charged with tapping into someone else's wireless Internet connection, a crime that carries a penalty of up to three years in jail, a newspaper reported Saturday.

Garyl Tan Jia Luo, 17, is the first person to be charged with this crime under the Computer Misuse Act, the Straits Times reported.

The report said Tan is accused of using a laptop computer to gain unauthorized access to a home wireless network on May 13.

The newspaper said a neighbor had apparently lodged a complaint against Luo.
The word "piggybacking" means when someone finds an open network and logs into it without permission. I think many people including myself would be serial offenders if piggybacking is a crime! The question some of you may ask, is it REALLY a crime? Is it stealing?

Legally, it is because a) you do not pay for the internet access and b) you use the internet access without permission. But I'm sure most of us have piggybacked on such unsecured WiFi many times before. And who can blame us? These "free" internet is available when we turn on our PDAs or notebooks. Sometimes when we are out of our homes and we need a quick internet access, we will just hop into any available network. Hey, it is not our fault aye? They showed up on our notebooks!

But this case involving the Singapore teen will make many think twice when they decide to piggyback the next time. But criminal cases involving piggybacking are rare. There are only two other cases in the United States and Canada. I found these two on Wikipedia:
According to techweb.com an Illinois man was fined for piggybacking on a Wi-Fi System after being warned repeatedly by the owner of the system. David M. Kauchak, 32, pleaded guilty in Winnebago County to remotely accessing someone else's computer system without permission, the Rockford Register Star newspaper reported. A Winnebago County judge fined Kauchak $250 and sentenced him to one year of court supervision. Kauchak has the dubious distinction of being the first person to face the charge in Winnebago County, and prosecutors say they're taking the crime seriously. "We just want to get the word out that it is a crime. We are prosecuting it, and people need to take precautions," Assistant State's Attorney Tom Wartowski told the newspaper. A police officer arrested Kauchak in January after spotting him sitting in a parked car with a computer. A chat with the suspect led to the arrest, Wartowski said.

In Toronto, Canada, a man was arrested with a WiFi-enabled laptop in his car - and his pants down. He was tapping into unprotected wireless networks. Ultimately, however, he was charged not for that, but for the child pornography he was in the process of downloading.
So now we know that we can get caught by the police if we piggyback. But three years jail for piggybacking? This is absurd. I don't think we need any more legislation regarding this matter. And the punishment doesn't fit the crime committed.

What we really need is education. People who subscribed to wireless internet access in their homes need to know the importance of securing their network. Many are just ignorant about this. Most don't even know that their networks can be secured or know how to do it. And when they find out that others are stealing their bandwidth, they get upset and in this case, complain to the police.

Making your wireless internet access secure is a good thing. It will prevent not only piggybackers but others who may want do harm to your computer, for example hackers and internet criminals. As for those of you who like me believe that sharing is good, then leave it open. We all can use a free WiFi or two occasionally. In fact, I believe the future of the internet is shared wireless access. One good example, FON!

18 comments:

Alvin said...

FON is interesting. We should get more Sporeans to join.

ENG said...

It shouldn't even be a police case. The neighbour should have just told the teen not to use their internet access.

Maybe there's something else that we do not know about the case. Maybe the teen keep piggybacking many times even after being warned or is doing some hacking etc.

Anonymous said...

3 yrs in jail for using your neighbour's wifi - the punishment is too much! welcome to singapore.

Honky Tong said...

Wa lao!! I serial offender!

Rickie said...

I'm trying to get a hold of Starhub or Singnets Term of Service. I bet those people who make their wireless internet available to others, may be violating the terms of the service.

xXx said...

Maybe he is downloading porn.

jimboi said...

all the people I know that carry PDAs n laptops piggyback occasionally.

sometimes when i turn on my notebook and i got log in, i dun even bother to check which network im on.

Anonymous said...

IT IS DEFINITELY A CRIME. CHEAPOS SHOULD GO GET THEIR OWN INTERNET.

finatiq said...

wah FON is available in singapore. coool.

LIBERATI said...

The neighbour brings the boy to court while starhub can also sue the neighbour for allowing others to share his internet.

Sir Thomas said...

Be a good neighbour.

Gina said...

The 3 yrs imprisonment term is the maximum one will get from this crime.

The boy will most likely get a small fine.

Mr Big said...

I couldn't find anything in Starhub's TOS about sharing wireless access with outsiders.

Shy said...

Not many ISPs are keen with initiatives such as FON because it will affect their revenue stream.

Teck Soon said...

Piggybacking should not be a crime at all. If someone leaves their wireless network unsecured, then they are making a de facto invitation to others that their network is free and open. If someone does not want piggybacking on their network, then securing a network is quick and easy. This is just ridiculous. What a dumb law. The neighbor in this case was too dumb to secure his network, so the boy thought the neighbor doesn't mind. I don't think that the boy's thought was unreasonable.

Anonymous said...

It's not my fault you don't know how to turn on security. ;P

Anonymous said...

It's like the sign that say "take one" if you leave something out and in the open it usually means free. If you didn't want what you have shared then it needs to be put away or in this case protected. It's crazy. I leave my wireless access secured because I don't want other's using it because they might use it for ill intent but I really don't mine sharing my connection because it's in the air out there anyway... but I guess we are all different people with different opinion but whatever!

lian hoe said...

suppose u leave your money all over the stairs to your apartment.. and someone who walksby picks it up and keeps it. it is a crime? technically it is..but sounds rather stupid to fine the guy .. same concept as piggybacking. as is always, the 3 year sentence just serves as a 'deterrent sentence' ie. never comensurates with the severity of crime but just to 'scare away' people from doing such a harmless thing.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

ShareThis