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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Culture

Stealing Wi-Fi: If you can, you shouldn't

People are finding it increasingly easy to get free Wi-Fi access--for instance, by adding a "?.jpg" suffix to URLs when at airports--but that would be stealing, plain and simple.

There are lots of things in life that I can do, but there is a more constrained number of things that I should do.

This post on Lifehacker about how to steal Wi-Fi access reminded me of one more "can but should not" item to add to the list.

Apparently, someone figured out a way to trick Wi-Fi networks at airports with a "?.jpg" addition to URLs. The access-gaining trick works only on those networks that "allow images to go through without a redirect," but that's not really the point. It's similar to adding Boingo Wireless' URL suffix for free iPhone access on standard connections to get 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi. In both cases, it's theft, plain and simple.

Some will use the rationalization that "Wi-Fi is overpriced and so people should steal it." This reminds me of my old argument that I should be able to download any songs off LimeWire that iTunes didn't allow me to buy. Shame on those artists for not letting me buy songs in a way convenient for and preferable to me!

I've come to see that I was wrong. Yes, I do think all media should be available for purchase online, and at reasonable pricing, just as I think Wi-Fi should be ubiquitous. But somehow, stealing it doesn't seem like the right way to get to that conclusion.

The fact that we can doesn't mean that we should.