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[Ham-80211] Re: ham-80211 Digest, Vol 3, Issue 2

Darryl Smith Darryl at radio-active.net.au
Thu Sep 2 23:16:57 UTC 2004

Communications law is a specialty in itself. And I am an engineer, and not a
lawyer; and if I was a lawyer I would not be certified to practice in the
USA which has a slightly different legal system from the one here in Oz. 

Having said that, here are my comments... 

I believe that the legal situation with 802.11 will be based on the
protocol. With the assistance of a wireless engineer, I believe that in most
cases a competent lawyer will be able to get a person charged with theft of
service or computer trespass off.

The reason I say this is that the 802.11 protocol has several ease of use
features. One is that access points broadcast a SSID, with an invitation to

This is like being in a snow-bound city, and a greeter being outside the
shop saying "Welcome to Winford Lauder Department Store... Come on in out of
the cold". 

Regardless of the explicit intent of the body setting up the access point,
they have implicitly set up the access point with the broadcasts turned on,
and allow the incoming traffic once they advertise availability. 

I do not agree that it is like leaving the keys in the car with the engine
running. It is more like being yelling to a stranger suggesting that they
borrow the car while they need it. 

Provided that you do not break WEP or other access controls it is my belief
that using unsecured access points is legal.


P.S. I will be in the USA for a week on Monday, and then in London for a
week. Whilst in London I will be on wireless. What I have found is that the
cost of the T-Mobile rate in the USA for a month is about the same as the
daily rate in the UK. And there is free roaming available. So I subscribe in
the US for use in the UK

Darryl Smith, VK2TDS   POBox 169 Ingleburn NSW 2565 Australia
Mobile Number 0412 929 634 [+61 4 12 929 634 International] 
www.radio-active.net.au\blog\ - www.radio-active.net.au\web\tracking

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