No, you don’t have to confess here if you’re guilty of “Wi-Fi Tapping,” piggybacking, or freeloading someone else’s Internet connection, but chances are, you’re not alone if you have. We’ve already talked about the simple fact that using an Internet connection that’s not yours without the owner’s consent is illegal and you can get arrested and fined for it. It’s happened. What we haven’t talked about though, is the statistic that came from a survey conducted by Sophos, a global Internet security firm which says 54% of computer users have used a broadband connection that’s not theirs without paying for it.
According to Times Online, 11 arrests have been made (they surveyed police in England and Wales, so this number is not global). That number could easily be a lot more, except that it’s often difficult for authorities to trace. My guess is that the majority of the people who have freeloaded before have done it just to check their email real quick when they’re traveling and don’t have a connection which is completely harmless. The problem though, is that freeloaders have used it to commit crimes. Punishment is serious business — in the UK, someone found guilty faces up to a 5 year jail sentence as well as a fine of up to £1,000. In the U.S., it’s considered a third-degree felony which means up to 5 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 or higher.
If you’re guilty of Wi-Fi tapping and it’s something you continuously do when you’re desperate for an Internet connection, it’s probably not a good idea. It’s easy to blame the wireless router owner who never secured their network, but should you get caught, you’d have no one to blame but yourself.