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Saturday, April 22, 2006

SOUND OFF: SOMETHING SPECIAL -- OR PRIVATE? -- IN THE AIR

Is it OK to tap into wireless connections that are not your own if they're not password-protected or otherwise secured? My readers were split. (See original Sound Off question and more responses at http://jeffreyseglin.blogspot.com/2006/03/why-oh-wireless.html.)

"If a neighbor is broadcasting a signal into your home," writes James Bone of London, Ontario, "then you have every right to tap into it."

Ed Chenal of Placentia, Calif., disagrees.

"Since the use of a wireless Internet connection has a value," he writes, "using someone's connection without permission is theft."

When Sheryl Dunfield Brown of Huntington Beach, Calif., found that her computer had picked up her neighbor's wireless connection, she didn't think twice. She asked her neighbor if she could "borrow" his signal, and he graciously agreed.

Finally Peter Caton of Rockfield, Ill., was baffled when he heard that an Illinois man was recently fined $250 for accessing an unsecure wireless network.


"If a business or residence wants to keep people out of the network," he writes, "they should either secure the network or set up some kind of warning that alerts people to the fact that their network is not open tothe public.

"If none of these steps is taken, I just cannot understand how anyone can be convicted for accessing an unsecure wireless network."

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