Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=907842
 


 



Accessing the Internet Through the Neighbor's Wireless Internet Connection: Physical Trespass in Virtual Reality


Ned Snow


Independent


Nebraska Law Review, Vol. 84, p. 1226-65, 2006

Abstract:     
As wireless computer networks are becoming commonplace, so also is the practice of accessing the Internet through another's wireless network. The practice raises a simple question of law: Does accessing a wireless network, without express authorization, violate the property rights of the network operator? This Article argues that it does. A neighbor who intentionally accesses the Internet through a network operator's connection appears to trespass on physical property of the operator - the operator's router. Recent Internet jurisprudence suggests that the electronic signals that the neighbor sends through the router are sufficient to find trespassory physical contact. The same jurisprudence suggests that the possibility that the neighbor could slow down the operator's Internet connection satisfies the tort's requirement of harm. Furthermore, the defense of consent does not appear to apply. Although the neighbor can raise an argument that the network operator consents to the neighbor's access when the operator fails to password protect the network, this argument is flawed. Failure to protect property does not imply consent to use property. The absence of password protection does not demonstrate consent, especially given that there is no economic reason that a network operator would want a neighbor to free ride on the operator's Internet connection. Finally, from a policy standpoint, the neighbor's conduct should be proscribed because of its negative externalities to Internet service providers. The free-riding neighbor strips Internet service providers of a return on their investment in Internet technology. To prevent this outcome, the conduct should be tortious. Trespass to chattel should lie.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: Internet, cyberspace, trespass, property

Accepted Paper Series





Download This Paper

Date posted: June 14, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Snow, Ned, Accessing the Internet Through the Neighbor's Wireless Internet Connection: Physical Trespass in Virtual Reality. Nebraska Law Review, Vol. 84, p. 1226-65, 2006. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=907842

Contact Information

Ned Snow (Contact Author)
Independent
No Address Available
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 4,822
Downloads: 321
Download Rank: 53,592

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo1 in 0.390 seconds