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Stealing Internet Is Theft

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Illinois criminal law statutes, Illinois defense attorneyBy definition, stealing is taking possession of something that is not yours, regardless of tangibility. The idea of saving money by taking ownership of something that you did not purchase is not a new idea, however with the birth and growth of virtual items, the list of things available to steal has also grown. Now, the Internet is nearly essential to function in daily life, requiring a monthly internet bill that some budgets cannot cover. Therefore, hacking into someone else’s wi-fi network seems like a valid option. However, this is still a form of theft that can get you into trouble.

Why Is It Stealing?

The Internet is seemingly unlimited, without a visible ownership due to the nature of the product. While some individuals do actively invite complete strangers to use their internet connection by leaving their network open without a password, the majority of the population leans toward their privacy. There are a variety of reasons for people to limit the usage to people they know, including:

  • They pay for their router and service, so should everyone else,
  • When more people use the service, the usable bandwidth is reduced making internet operations slower,
  • Many providers drop service if the bandwidth cap is surpassed which may also result in additional charges, and
  • A network can be shared between computers in the home, and if someone else accesses the system, all information may be vulnerable.

What Are the Repercussions?

If someone somewhere has paid for the internet service you are using without permission, then you may be punishable. The repercussions include fines, community service and potentially jail time.

“Unlawful access to a computer network” is a felony and it can be subject to the following penalties:

  • Minimum prison term of one year,
  • Up to seven years in prison, and
  • Up to $25,000 in fines.

What Are Your Options?

While it may seem like a good idea to just use the neighbor’s internet without asking, it is an act that should be reconsidered. If you are having difficulties with your internet, speak to them directly and perhaps you can borrow their internet for a few days until yours is back up and running, or offer to split the bill with them. Many are in the same predicament in that saving money is always welcomed, and they may be surprisingly receptive to your suggestion.

If you have already been accused of unlawfully using the internet without permission, it is in your best interest to discuss your situation with an experienced Maywood, IL criminal defense attorney. Contact Stringini & Garvey, P.C. today at 630-834-9595 to schedule your free initial consultation. We proudly serve clients in Glendale Heights, Lombard, Bloomingdale and all surrounding Chicagoland areas.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K16-1

http://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/computer-hacking-and-unauthorized-access-laws.aspx

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=072000050HArt.+17%2C+Subdiv.+30&ActID=1876&ChapterID=53&SeqStart=58900000&SeqEnd=59600000


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