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Is it legal to use your neighbor’s wifi / wireless? – Verizon / TimeWarner NYC wifi setup

NYC wireless internet securityYou don’t pay for the Internet at home, but your neighbor has a perfectly good wireless signal and best of all, it’s not password-protected.  Should you use it?  Is it legal?  Is it wrong?

It is legal to access a public wi-fi hotspot.  You have the permission of the service provider, so it’s fine.  You could argue that a neighbor’s access is wi-fi too if they didn’t secure it with a password.  After all, who is dumb enough to keep their wireless Internet connection open for all, right?

Well, it’s not that simple The answer lies in the legal verbiage of the residential Internet service providers’ policies and plans.  For NYC Internet wireless issues, Time Warner Cable deems it illegal.  Their problem with it is monetary in that it is illegal to resubscribe their Internet access at no charge.  In other words, they want to make money off of those freebies.

Verizon DSL also prohibits this piggybacking, explaining that its service is meant to be used just in one location.  Oddly, Speakeasy, an alternate DSL provider in NYC, doesn’t mind, revealing that wireless networks may be shared in keeping with its core values of sharing knowledge.  Very odd way of looking at it, but if you find out that your neighbor uses Speakeasy, well, you’re in luck!

Now, the federal level may be construed to label this as a crime.  As a criminal may knowingly access computer network without authorization to obtain info from a computer, it may also be said that one who knowingly access a wireless router to obtain Internet access is committing a crime as well.

Occasionally, we’ll get a customer that we make an NYC onsite computer service visit for an Internet issue that mysteriously disappears.  The disappearance is because their neighbor finally smartened up and inputted a password on router.  It’s funny how mystified these customers get when their free Internet goes away.  How did this happen?  I didn’t get a computer virus or anything?  You received free Internet access for months!  What are you complaining about?  Buy the Internet for Pete’s Sake!

Of course, we shake our heads at these customers and feel that apart from the legal ramifications, there is a moral obligation to do onto your neighbor as you would want them to do onto you.  If you steal your neighbor’s Internet access, would you mind if they steal your TV or cell phone once in awhile.  These are the privileges of life that we sometimes take for granted, or in other cases, just take.

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Got any further questions? Walk in for a free diagnostic in NYC:

53 East 34th Street (Park & Madison), Floor 3 New York, NY 10016

806 Lexington Ave (62nd Street), Floor 3, New York, NY 10065

110 Greene Street Suite 1111, (Floor 11), New York, NY 10012

Outside NYC? Just mail in your device if in the US.