Tougher legislation aimed at protecting copyrighted materials is driving illegal file sharing underground and causing users to unlawfully ‘Piggy-back’ off wireless networks in order to download content anonymously, leaving businesses open to bandwidth abuse and theft. Many businesses have set up loosely secured hotspots for visitors or for convenience. Illegal access by outsiders may cause businesses new headaches as illegal file sharing is traced back to the point of access.
There is precedence, however, that may help businesses that get ensnared in this situation. In 2005, a 40 year old Florida man was arrested and charged with a felony for stealing bandwidth from a nearby WiFi connection. The man was charged under a seldom used-Florida law that prohibits accessing a computer or network knowingly, willfully and without authorization. The owner of the WiFi connection was concerned he might be linked to whatever the accused was doing such as accessing porn sites or child pornography.