Legal issues and wireless Internet

  • Published
  • By Capt. Paul M. Gesl
  • 374th Airlift Wing Staff Judge Advocate Office
Wireless routers and cards can make connecting to the Internet very simple; you can connect to the internet anytime you're in range of wireless hotspots in places like libraries, airports, coffee shops, etc. However, there are some legal issues you should be aware of when using a wireless connection.

Setting up a wireless network is a very simple process, and nowadays it can merely be done by inserting a wireless card onto your laptop computer. Nonetheless, if you're new wireless network is not secured, the information sent to and from your laptop computer can be read by anyone who makes the effort.

Many people do not take the few extra minutes necessary to make their network secure. For example, if you shop online and do not take the time to secure your network, someone may be able to gain access to your credit card numbers, social security number or other private information. In other words, an unsecured network leaves you vulnerable to identity theft, which can take a lot of time and effort to fix -- not to mention it may cost you lots of money.

Another concern is that people might connect to your unsecured network with their computer and use your name for illegal activity, for example to view child pornography, to buy illegal substances, or even to illegally download music. This means you could be subject to civil lawsuits or criminal charges for someone else's actions.

Furthermore, if you are using your wireless router to share your internet connection outside your household, then you are most likely violating the agreement with your internet service provider. If this is the case, your internet service provider can take legal action against you.

Considering all the possible negative ramifications that can arise when using a wireless network, it is worth the few extra minutes it takes to make sure you and your network are secure. This can save you a lot of time and trouble later.