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.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?
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.
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.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.
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.
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!