TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Wi-Fi Liability: Potential Legal Risks in Accessing, Operating

Wi-Fi Liability: Potential Legal Risks in Accessing, Operating

Monty Solomon (
Tue, 14 Jun 2005 09:17:30 -0400

Wi-Fi Liability: Potential Legal Risks in Accessing and Operating
Wireless Internet


Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal, Vol. 21, p. 543


Suppose you turn on your laptop while sitting at the kitchen table at
home and respond OK to a prompt about accessing a nearby wireless
Internet access point owned and operated by a neighbor. What
potential liability may ensue from accessing someone else's wireless
access point? How about intercepting wireless connection signals?
What about setting up an open or unsecured wireless access point in
your house or business? Attorneys can expect to grapple with these
issues and other related questions as the popularity of wireless
technology continues to increase.

This paper explores several theories of liability involving both the
accessing and operating of wireless Internet, including the Computer
Fraud and Abuse Act, wiretap laws, as well as trespass to chattels and
other areas of common law. The paper concludes with a brief discussion
of key policy considerations.

Keywords: Wi-Fi, WLAN, WAP, wireless, IEEE, 802.11b, 802.11a, 802.11g,
CFAA, HotSpot, VOIP, Sablan, Verio, AOL, Security, encryption,
internet, ISP, wardriving, warchaulking

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