The recent letters to the ST Forum showing an outpouring of sympathy towards the unfortunate teenager who was caught mooching leaves a somewhat unpleasant taste in my mouth. Perhaps my values are slightly different from that of the average person. Then again, maybe not.
Mooching is most definately wrong. One writer drew the analogy of having two neighbours with one having a sprinkler water his garden and the other “benefitting” from whatever extra water that happens to spill over. The claim was that surely the one “benefitting” cannot to held liable for whatever “benefits” he or she receives. Well, I would agree. However in this case, the one “benefitting” did not need to do anything to obtain his “benefit”. In mooching, the would be moocher must log-on the other person’s network. That is a deliberate action to access. So, is this deliberate action wrong?
I would draw the analogy of an ignorant person leaving his or her home unlocked when they go out. A passerby notices that the door is unlocked and decides that now is a good time to relieve himself in the owner’s restroom. The passerby then leaves the house without touching anything else. Is the passerby wrong in his action? There was no intent to steal. Neither was anything stolen. The owner would never have noticed that their toilet had been used by someone else. However it does not change the fact that the passerby is guilt of trespass. But the ignorant owner did not lock their door! It is against common sense to leave the house without locking the door. Yes, but that doesn’t making trepassing any less of a crime then if the door was locked. Indeed the owner is silly for not trying to protect their property but it doesn’t mean that because there is a lack of protection it is then alright to trespass and use whatever facilities they have.
Thus mooching should therefore be a crime.
The other unsettling thing is that some people appear to think that everyone else is like them. It was not stated in the papers what type of connection the neighbour was having. For all one knows, it may not have been an unlimited account. Why is it alright to assume that if there is a wireless network present that the account would be unlimited? A person mooching onto such a network would then be running up a bill for the owner of the network. Would that now make it less right for the supporters of Mooching? Incidentally, it is consider a breach of contract if the owner is found to be sharing their network as one of the terms and conditions of the service provided by the ISP is that resale (or providing the service) to a third party (for profit or otherwise) is not allowed.
Another writer claims that the IEEE specification standard stipulates that any unsecured network is free to access. First of all find myself unable to locate the paragraph in the specification that supports his claim. If someone would like to help me locate this paragraph (you can find the document here) I would greatly appreciate it. Secondly, if you have seen the specification before, this claim sounds to me like an elite hiding behind a sophisticated document, using it to justify his actions to the ignorant owner of the network. Even I (I consider myself to be generally computer literate) find the document rather difficult to read let alone the average buyer of a wireless router. I suppose it can be considered common sense to secure a network but can one consider it common sense to know how to do so? Thus, when the owner finds that someone else to taking advantage of their ignorance, have they no course of action to protect themselves? Should we simply laugh in their faces, remarking how stupid they are, stating that they have to let the trespasser go because he or she has done no wrong? This reminds me of a comment made recently by another elite.
Personally, I think that the respect for another’s space and property appears to have been corroded away by all the things that we can obtain for free. Youtube is free. Music can be obtained free. Information on the Internet is free. The recent years of getting many things for free have made it seem that anything to do with the Internet should be free. And we seem to be saying, well, it’s our God damn right! It should be free!