By alecm on Apr 17, 2007
UK's first 'bandwidth theft' arrests
Yesterday's radio news carried this BBC story about two arrests in Worcestershire for theft of network access. Two individuals, in separate incidents, were apparently seen using laptops in parked cars, and subsequently cautioned for the offence of 'dishonestly obtaining electronic communication services with intent to avoid payment'.
I know there are some householders who see this as a 'victimless' activity, and who are happy to leave their wireless access points open for others to access. In some cases I'm sure it is a harmless and indeed neighbourly thing to do... but it's worth reflecting for a moment on some of the other possibilities this opens up.
At the root of it is the fact that this is a form of identity theft.
It strikes me that this is only a step away from prosecuting people for running kismet or even just scanning for local hotspots; of course the law is rarely so starkly black and white ("you scanned for a wireless network to attach to, you're going down...") but it would not surprise me for someone to try and whamp this up to be the next great threat to society...
Databases of registered MAC addresses, anyone?