Unsecured wifi might be contributory negligence

Ian Batten igb at batten.eu.org
Thu Feb 16 08:39:10 GMT 2012

On 15 Feb 2012, at 21:49, Mary Hawking wrote:

> Does this apply to private users?
> Suppose an OAP comes on the internet and does not realise that there is a
> way to secure the WiFi router (or does not realise it *is* wifi - and
> junior-next-door uses it - will the OAP be held liable?

Quite a lot of ISPs now ship the routers with some security turned on.  It might be weak --- WEP is commonly used, presumably for back-compatibility reasons --- but there's a substantial difference between leaving your front door unlocked and having a lock which turns out to be susceptible to bump-keys.  I think you can just about construct an argument that if an access point is open it's reasonable to expect that others might use it and to then appreciate there might later be an attribution problem over who did what (although how that differs from, say, a landlord providing WiFi broadband in a shared student house where the individual students have no contractual relationship to each other is left as an exercise for the reader).  But once there are measures in place that make it clear an invitation is not being extended, even if those measures are defeatable, then I think that argument evaporates.


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