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connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

By Ned Rhinelander (CNET) ·
I came in today to my job at CNet Network's Cambridge office, and had to wait in the lobby for a fire alarm to clear.

I pulled out my laptop and decided to see if there were any available networks...turns out there were 10, 3 or 4 of which were not secured. So, I proceded to IM with my colleage Steven upstairs. Before long Steven asked me "so you don't have any qualms about hijacking a wireless connection?"

When I setup a wireless access point, I consciously assume that if I set it to broadcast the SSID and disable security it's tantamount to offering a public service.

However, Steven's question threw me for a loop, because I think he has a point as one gave me permission to connect to the access point. Just because my computer connects automatically doesn't necessarily make it right.

Any thoughts out there on the legalities or general ettiquitte of this?

This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

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Law and culture

by danag42 In reply to Slower Traffic Keep Right

I live in Massachusetts. I was driving along at the usual traffic speed of around 75 miles per hour in the left lane. I was daydreaming and didn't notice the cop behind me.

So he put on his lights, rolled down the window, and yelled at me for being rude and not paying attention to my surroundings. No ticket, just a dressing-down for not being courteous.

The speed limit is 65. On a sunny dry day, the culture seems to accept 70 to 75 miles per hour as acceptable. If the police were really concerned about the speed limit, they'd go around giving lots of tickets.

So, it seems that if I were to set up a wireless network, and protect the machines, I could leave it open for anyone to use without it making the slightest difference to me.

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Middle Lane

by andypiesse In reply to Slower Traffic Keep Right

In the UK drivers who stay in the middle lane are called MLM's Middle Lane Morons.

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Google Search

by Ron In reply to Slower Traffic Keep Right

Guess what Google found for "Left Lane Vigilantes".
The first two entries were for this forum!

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Funny example of Recursion!!!

by Montgomery Gator In reply to Google Search

When I did my original comment, of course, this forum was not on it. Interesting how Google works and gets updated in so short a time. I originally got the term "Left Lane Vigilante" from Mike Straka's column on,2933,126808,00.html

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Left lane is for passing ONLY!

by mrafrohead In reply to What's wrong with obeying ...

Chas, I'm sorry to read this...

Hopefully I won't come up on your butt. I have no problems kissing the jerk that wants to go slow in the fast lane...

Some call it road rage. I call it "forcing sensibility".

If you don't want to go with the flow of traffic then you are causing a jam. Move over a lane. It's not too hard. When I feel slow, I chill in the slow lane. Nothing wrong with it.

BUT slow in the fast lane, not cool. It's not fair to make everyone else take there time just because you aren't in a hurry.

As for following the laws. There is a law against blocking the flow of traffic. If the speed limit is 70 and the flow is 78 and you want to go 65, you are breaking the law too... Just something to think about....

Another thing I noticed:
"I truly love driving just below the posted speed limit with 15 or 20 cars backed up behind me."

This is just some advice, I don't mean it threateningly...

I would really think twice about doing that too... I have followed people home for doing that, and run them off of the road. (I have some days that I am a VERY bad person to be around (though not for about 6 months) and if I do it, I'm sure there are others). I'm only telling you this to hopefully prevent you from experiencing a true a$$hole.

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New Thread

by TheChas In reply to Left lane is for passing ...

Interesting comments.

When someone parks on my bumper, I follow what I was taught in drivers training and slow down.

I do try my best to drive at or just below the posted speed limit. If treated respectfully, I will go up to 5 MPH over when I need to use the left lane.

I have done such a good job at training myself to drive the speed limit that I now need to watch the needle so I don't go too slow!

Anyhow, I think my comments and the responses have corrupted this thread enough.

Here is a link to a new thread for those who wish to pursue this subject further.

Looking forward to more interesting comments.


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I am that asshole

by cybrsage13 In reply to Left lane is for passing ...

I am that asshole who has forced left-lane vigilanties off the road. I have managed to get infront of them and slammed my 7 year old 100,000 mile car has has many brand new back ends placed on it, thanks to left-lane vigilanties.

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In Ontario, you could be charged

by JamesRL In reply to What's wrong with obeying ...

There is a law in Ontario that you cannot do things which impede the flow of traffic, including sitting in the left hand lane at the speed limit when other want to overtake(Overtaking on the right is also illegal but rarely enforced).

There was a case where in a protest, a couple of drivers drove side by side down a divided highway(2 lanes each direction) at the speed limit intentionally to block traffic. They were charged, convicted, appealled and lost the appeal.

Every year there is a blitz where the police look for "left lane bandits" instead of speeders. And yes they can be charged, even though they are doing the speed limit or less. Why do we have these laws? Because its safer to allow some speeding than to force people to pass on the right. I will note that its rare to have left lanes in Ontarion that turn into exits.

In Ontario, the highways were built to a standard which allows safe operation at a higher speed than the speed limit. And the police do not enforce the speed laws on multilane divided highways until you are substantially over the limit of 100 KMs per hour. 120 is safe, 130 is risky, 140 you will be ticketed.

There are times when speeding is accepted here - if you need to speed up to pass a truck who blocks your visibility or whose wake is buffeting your car, you won't get stopped.

I think there are other practises that warrant more close police attention, like unsafe lane changes, and following too close. I'd rather be on the road with speeders who pay attention than slow drivers on cell phones who absent mindedly change lanes without checking their blind spot.


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Autobahn Experience

by Schr?dinger's Cat In reply to What's wrong with obeying ...

On the German Autobahn there is, in most places, no posted speed limit. I drove in Germany for 10 years at speeds in excess of 150mph. In those ten years I saw perhaps 3 serious accidents on the Autobahn. The police STRICTLY enforce left lane laws (left lane only for passing, no passing on the right, etc), drunk driving laws, and vehicle safey inspections. When I came back to the US, within the first 3 months I saw three serious accidents on the highways. What could be the difference? It is certainly not speed that kills...but what is it? I never saw a person reading the paper, putting on makeup, or eating a hamburger while driving in Germany. The drivers there are serious about what they are doing...and they are attentive. Is it just America?

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If I were in one of those 15 or 20 cars behind you....

by mmoran In reply to What's wrong with obeying ...

... I'd note your license plate number and then call the cops (voice-activated cell phone equipped with headset so both hands remain on the wheel) to report a possible impaired driver. Sure, the cop who pulls you over presumably finds a BAC of 0.0 and lets you go but hey, you're out of everybody's way now ;&gt And suitably repaid for the nuisance you caused the rest of us.

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