If you use someone else’s WiFi signal without permission, you’re a thief. That’s the conclusion of a bill introduced into the Maryland General Assembly last week. Sponsored by Delegate LeRoy E. Myers, Jr., the legislation would criminalize the unauthorized use of a wireless access point in the state; it has since received an “unfavorable report” by the House Judiciary Committee, which all but dooms its prospects of passage.
The bill’s purpose is to prohibit anyone from accessing a wireless access point “intentionally, willfully, and without authorization.” It appears to ban both everyday WiFi leeching and using an open access point for more nefarious activities. And if you live in a Maryland neighborhood with broadband usage caps, it would be illegal to deliberately cause someone to overuse their bandwidth allotment. Violators would be subject to fines of up to $1,000 and three years in jail, unless they tried to hack into a password-protected system or used their unauthorized access for mischief. Then the penalties could climb to $10,000 and 10 years in prison.
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