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US Wi-Fi piggybacking won't put you in pokey

Proposed bill likely to be blown down

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A US politician who tried to make Wi-Fi piggybacking punishable with three years in jail looks set to have his proposed bill overturned.

Maryland-based LeRoy Myers proposed in the bill, heard last week, that those who used others' Wi-Fi connections without permission should face up to 36 months behind bars plus a fine of up to $1,000.

He also proposed that those who hacked into a password-protected system should face up to ten years in jail, and a fine of up to $10,000.

Myers' Wi-Fi network had recently fallen victim to his neighbour, according to local rag The Herald-Mail.

But Myers' attempts to get his bill passed appear to have since been thwarted by the local House Judiciary Committee, which has made it clear it will oppose the bill.

The Committee said that it's easy to make the mistake of logging on to someone else's network if you're within range, and it added that users not wanting random punters to use their bandwidth should just secure the connection in the first place.

There's been a great deal of dithering over whether Wi-Fi piggybacking is really a crime. In the UK, BT had originally prohibited connection-sharing, but then encouraged its customers to do just that as part of its deal with WiFi sharing company Fon.

A man from Chiswick, west London, was even arrested last August for using someone's unsecured connection while sitting on a wall outside their home, though the Met Police argued it wasn't part of a wider crackdown.

Two men were arrested in Northumbria last month for checking their emails and surfing seemingly innocent websites on someone else's connection. Police confirmed it was an offence, but released the pair on bail pending further enquiries. ®

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