By: LISA R. WILSON

WiFi internet access—cable-free and loving it! WiFi capability is the best thing since cordless phones...and one of the easiest things to tap into. While it can be tempting to take advantage of an unsecured network to save money, there are clear disadvantages to using someone else's wireless service—for both the service subscriber and the one riding piggy-back.

For WiFi service subscribers, the first disadvantage is that when others log on to their networks, it eats up bandwidth which makes for a slow internet connection. In addition, if the service subscriber has a bandwidth limit, the service may be cut off if usage is exceeded, or an additional sum may be tacked onto the bill. Also, people using the network could potentially access other computers on the network, if users have set their computers to share data, and this could compromise the security of all computers involved.

For someone who is “piggy-backing” on someone else’s WiFi service, the primary disadvantage is that the service could suddenly get cut off, as the service subscriber may decide to block their service to outside parties at any given time. Further, in some states, people can be prosecuted for theft of Internet service, and they may be required to pay fines, perform community service, or be penalized in some other way.

However, there are instances when using someone else's wireless service isn't always pushing legal boundaries. Sometimes neighbors may band together to share the service so that the bill can be split between them. In other cases, people who believe that Internet access should be available to all may leave their networks unsecured so that others within a reasonable distance can access them as well.

Although some WiFi enthusiasts welcome others to log on through their network by leaving their service unprotected, if you choose to log onto a service that is not yours and you have not received permission to do so, you do set yourself up for possible legal penalties. Click here for more information on WiFi pirating, or to learn about internet laws for your state, contact a Lead Counsel Consumer Protection Attorney in your area today.

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