Flip open and fire up your laptop, find an unsecured wi-fi signal and check your email ... have you just stolen wi-fi? It may be illegal in some places, but is it immoral? Can wi-fi be stolen?
Here's an interesting article by Finlo Rohrer of the BBC News Magazine about whether "stealing" wi-fi is wrong:
So here's the thing.
You're walking down the street in Hypotheticalville and in front of you is a gentleman who, when he walks, spills seemingly endless torrents of golden coins on to the pavement behind him.
He seems unconcerned by this and you notice that if not picked up, these magic coins quickly evaporate. Is it moral for you to pick a few up?
It's the kind of tree-falls-in-the-forest whimsy that an undergraduate philosopher might mull over for a moment, but back in the real world a not entirely dissimilar debate is being played out.
The man arrested in a street in west London is at least the third person to be accused of breaching the law by taking internet service without permission. [...]
There are also suggestions using somebody else's wireless could come under the Computer Misuse Act, usually used to combat hacking and electronic fraud.
But if it can be interpreted as illegal, can it be truly said to be immoral?
Heavy downloading might affect the unsecured person's speed of access or download limit, but a use like checking an e-mail is hardly likely to be noticed. Most "victims" will suffer no loss.
What do you think? Is it wrong to use someone else's unsecured wi-fi connection without permission?