November 14, 2006
For many years, we've put up posts questioning whether or not using unsecured WiFi was a crime or if it even should be a crime. It appears that officials in Singapore decided that it absolutely is a crime and John writes in to point out that a teenager now faces three years in jail for using his neighbor's WiFi. There aren't too many details here, and perhaps there's more to this story. However, from the summary, it sounds like this kid used his neighbor's open WiFi network. There's nothing saying that he got past any security or anything like that -- just that he had "unauthorized access." As many of you probably know, most computers these days have WiFi network auto-discovery, meaning that if you're walking around with an ordinary laptop in Singapore, you could accidentally open yourself up to the potential of 3 years in jail just by waking it up in the wrong spot. The other oddity here is that the article claims the complaint was filed by the neighbor, though it's unclear how he knew that his WiFi was being used by the teen, or how anyone can prove that it actually was the teen. Perhaps there really is more to the story, and perhaps the neighbor did properly lock up his WiFi -- but if it really was open, wouldn't locking it up be a more reasonable response than tossing your teenaged neighbor in jail for three years?