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Wi-fi usage ethics (all opinions welcome)

By GSteve ·
So, I was reading the "Great Users" thread, that went way off on an ethics tangent, and I want to talk about this from a different perspective.
I pretty much know nothing about wifi service (I?m still paying 15/month for my doggone slow dialup), but doesn't anyone else think that the ISPs who are selling this bandwidth would be kind of mad that one (person/family/house) is paying for the service, and someone else is getting access to the service? I'd think the company would want each of you to pay.

I can remember in the early days of AOL (when I was still naive enough to use that ISP) thinking: "I bet there are plenty of people out there who don't use all of their allotted screen names...why can't I just have one of theirs?" (Similar to my theory of: There are so many millionaires out there...can't I just get one of them to slip me $100-$200K?) :) Let?s just call up Steve Case and ask his opinion. Or, if you hate the big names, consider it was your local Joe Schmoe ISP, would that make it any different?

I know there are holes all through this line of thinking (i.e. only one user could be connected to AOL at any given time, and millionaires are all greedy and never want to share), but I am getting some 'red-flags' from my conscience when I consider using a service that someone else is paying for.

Can anyone else think of other analogies (good or bad) that would relate to this? (stealing/borrowing services)

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Water sprinklers

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Wi-fi usage ethics (all o ...

I don't have wireless or high-speed access at the house and I'm content with my dial-up. I haven't tried poaching off a neighbor's link, so my opinion is based on theory, not personal experience.

Say my neighbor installs a sprinkler system in his front yard. Say he doesn't check the range of the sprinkler heads so he winds up watering my front yard along with his. He's paying for it and I'm getting it for free, but I haven't taken any active steps to get his water. If I point this out to him and he doesn't fix it, I'm ethically in the clear.

Now I move potted plants into the wet zone. I've taken active steps to steal his water. Now I'm on morally shaky ground.

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maybe

by jdclyde In reply to Water sprinklers

but not if that wet zone is still on your property your not "stealing" his water. You would have to have been the one to MAKE it overshoot his property or cross onto his property to be stealing it.

Dial-up... ( shudder )

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Actually

by amcol In reply to Water sprinklers

You're ethically in the clear in both situations.

You notified your neighbor his sprinkler was watering your lawn, and he makes no adjustments. You are the beneficiary of his laziness.

You move your potted plants to the watering zone. Your neighbor is incurring no incremental loss. His sprinkler is operating the same way, for the same length of time, emitting the same volume of water. You've simply worked things out to be an even larger beneficiary of his laziness.

In both cases you performed your ethical duty notifying your neighbor of the problem, in both cases your neighbor made the same decision to take no remedial action, and in both cases your neighbor is expelling the same amount of extra water. The fact that you're getting more benefit in the second case, and took an imperative action to do so, is irrelevant.

As a matter of fact, in a kind of a perverse way you're being ethically responsible. Your neighbor didn't care that he was wasting water so you took it upon yourself to address his misuse of natural resources.

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Not the same!

by gphoto45 In reply to Water sprinklers

You are actively catching his water, and watering you plants with it. It is this criminal attitude that forces us to live, locked in out homes at night, or locking the doors and windows when we are at work. Stealing is stealing. Taking what is not yours is stealing. Even if you accidently, or unknowingly leave you keys in your car, is it ok for me to use it to take a spin?

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Please reread my post

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Not the same!

"Now I move potted plants into the wet zone. I've taken active steps to steal his water. Now I'm on morally shaky ground."

We agree.

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Not a good analogy

by crewr In reply to Water sprinklers

I agree with your points as they relate to the water sprinkler but they have no correlation to a wireless connection. Let's say sending out a wireless signal that penetrates your yard is the same as water. Maybe there would be some similarity. But a wireless connection is two way. You ask his wireless router to go get you something from the internet and THEN it broadcasts it to you. It would be more like having a remote control to turn on his water sprinkler whenever your grass got a little dry.

These arguments persist because people continue in their failure to see that digital assets are as real as material assets. This is the same "there is no material loss" sort of position (that I admit to holding as a teen) that causes people to think, "When I copy a CD, who knows about it? It doesn't cost anyone anything because I wouldn't have bought it anyhow." That's wrong thinking. The "mooch" factor trickles down into real money. You start thinking, "I would't have bought the (CD, DSL, software) it anyway" because you know you can get it for free with that attitude. You know that you can stay on dial-up because you "wouldn't have bought DSL anyway". Why should you when you can get it for free from your neighbor?

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Good, but not perfect.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Not a good analogy

Cut me some slack. It'a an analogy, not a doctoral dissertation on business ethics.

I agree with you completely on intellectual property issues.

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Your slack

by crewr In reply to Good, but not perfect.

Sorry. That 2nd half was a general characterization of those that would agree with "borrowing" data. It wasn't pointed at you personally.

Here's a thought. What if the neighbor ALLOWS you to use his wireless connection? Does he have that right? Same issue, it prevents someone from buying into the service and costs the service provider money. It would be like splitting your cable and running a line to his house. Is wireless somehow different because it lacks the wire? Just a thought for discussion.

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Great question.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Your slack

How is him allowing me to use it different from his using a second computer in his own home? Sounds good to me.

What about if he regularly brings his laptop to my house (gaming, maybe) and connects via his access point? Still sounds good to me.

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by NickinSD2004 In reply to Water sprinklers

<< Now I move potted plants into the wet zone. I've taken active steps to steal his water. Now I'm on morally shaky ground. >> I don't agree. Your neighbor has already given you access to his water. The same amount will land in the wet zone of your yard no matter what is there.

The moral equivalent to wardriving would be placing your potted plants in his yard in a wet zone that doesn't need watering. Again, the same amount will land in the wet zone no matter what is there.

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