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Friday, August 19, 2005

not wiretapping laws...

I've received several e-mails telling me that the wiretap laws don't criminalize wifi open network access without authorization. Although the wiretap laws have been used in some cases (the Electronic Communication Privacy Act or state equivalents) to proescute interception, it has been used to intercept communications/content rather than the access itself. (interception of digital pager transmissons and commercial satellite programming are two often cited examples of those cases).

People wrote in that notices would have to be posted before unauthorized access could be criminalized under the wiretap laws.

There is some confusion there. Notices are often recommended in a work environment, where the employer is monitoring or intercepting the commmunications of employees and others using the workplace computers. There is an exception to the wiretap laws which allows employers under certain circumstances to monitor and intercept communications. But the best practice is to inform your employees that they are being monitored (some states require it), so that you can rely on the better exemption - consent (actual or implied consent). The notice wouldn't apply in a wifi access case, even if the ECPA could be used to prosecute incoming, as opposed to outgoing, access of a network when no actual communications are being intercepted.

I never said that the wiretap laws would apply to wifi unauhtorized access.

I don't think they do or should.

until later...