Can I Use My Neighbor’s Wi-Fi For Network Connectivity Sans His/Her Permission?

No; you cannot do that because it is illegal in India. True; Wi-Fi wireless technology makes it easy and lawful to share network connections between multiple computers and users without subscribing to an ISP, while logging on to public hotspots; nevertheless, doing so at the cost of your neighbor equates to committing a crime. In other countries it is considered a misdemeanor and so invokes universal contempt and scorn.

What happens when you use public Wi-Fi Hotspots?

Today, most public places such as hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, airports, spas/resorts, etc provide Wi-Fi connections for their clients free of cost or at a nominal fee in order to boost up their popularity, while it is considered quite lawful to avail of such services. However, these offerings are often subject to certain terms and conditions (bearing notice: T&C applicable) that include the following:

  • Limitation on the amount of network bandwidth to be used
  • Time restrictions or locations where such facilities are offered
  • Restrictions on viewing inappropriate websites (such as porn sites)

What happens when you use neighbor’s Wi-Fi for network connectivity?

Trying to use your neighbor’s wireless access point sans his/her knowledge or permission is a criminal offence in India. Why; it is still considered a misdeed even if your neighbor supposedly agrees to such illegal activity. Then there is the question of professional objection on part of the local ISP who had provided the service to your neighbor.

Similar to stealthily entering a person’s drawing room or library without his or her permission tantamount to trespassing, accessing another person’s wireless internet connection (even open access) without his/her permission is a form of illegal activity punishable by law. As a matter of fact, it matters very little whether any permission or consent has been issued or not.

What does the law say?

As per section 43 of the IT Act 2008 (Amended vide ITAA-2006/2008), if any person who is in-charge of a computer, computer system or computer network –

  1. Accesses or secures access to such computer, computer system or computer network or computer resource;
  2. Downloads, copies or extracts any data, computer data base or information from such computer, computer system or computer network including information or data held or stored in any removable storage medium;
  3. Introduces or causes to be introduced any computer contaminant or computer virus into any computer, computer system or computer network;
  4. Damages or causes to be damaged any computer, computer system or computer network, data, computer data base or any other program/programs residing in such computer, computer system or computer network;
  5. Disrupts or causes disruption of any computer, computer system or computer network;
  6. Denies or causes the denial of access to any person authorized to access any computer, computer system or computer network by any means;
  7. Provides any assistance to any person to facilitate access to a computer, computer system or computer network in contravention of the provisions of this Act (IT Act 2008), rules or regulations made thereunder;
  8. Charges the services availed of by a person to the account of another person by tampering with or manipulating any computer, computer system or computer network;
  9. Destroys, deletes or alters any information residing in a computer resource or diminishes its value or utility or affects it injuriously by any means (inserted by ITAA-2008) Steals, conceals, destroys or alters or causes any person to steal, conceal, destroy or alter any computer source code for a computer resource with an intention to cause damage, the person shall be liable to pay damages by way of compensation not exceeding One Crore Rupees to the person so affected.

 Apart from legal structure that forbids a person from accessing another person’s wireless network, which amounts to taking undue advantage, and that too surreptitiously, it is also ethically improper to cheat an unsuspecting neighbor in this fashion. So, it is always better to go for a connection for your own use. Incidentally, Bhubaneswar based WEFE Technologies provide excellent Wi-Fi connectivity, while their service charges are quite reasonable.