WiFi Hacking not Always a Cyber Crime

If someone is assuming that hacking/breaking into a WiFi router for piggybacking on the router’s internet connection is illegal, then he/she needs to double check the same with the applicable CyberLaw. This was highlighted in view of a recent WiFi hacking incident where a student broke into a WiFi network to posting threatening messages on an internet message board. But a Dutch court hearing the case acquitted the student of WiFi hacking charges.

The interesting ruling by the Dutch court was based on the reasoning that the student only accessed the WiFi router’s internet connection and not the computer connected to the router, and therefore did not violate hacking laws, because a WiFi router does not fit into the computer definition dictated by the law in the Netherlands. According to the ruling, the definition of a computer only includes devices capable of storing, transferring and processing data. Whereas a WiFi router, designed only for transferring and processing data, lacks data storage capability and therefore cannot be looked upon as a computer. Subsequently, a person hacking a WiFi router can not be prosecuted under the prevailing  law of computer hacking.

It can be understood that most of the laws related to computer hacking are quite old and do not include newer hacking scenarios. The Dutch court also admitted the same while giving the ruling, saying that the law used by court to deal with the WiFi hacking case was formed in the early nineties.

While considering these newer hacking scenarios, the ones related to WiFi networks are the most prominent and require immediate attention. People are already witnessing a large number of WiFi hacking incidents here and there. Apart from these regular incidents, the world has also already witnessed some major and widely talked about WiFi hacking incidents in recent years. All this can be attributed to an explosive, ever-growing WiFi user base and peoples' continuing elusiveness about WiFi security.

Thus, to comprehensively deal with these relatively newer WiFi hacking incidents, existing CyberLaws of various countries dealing in computer hacking scenarios need to be upgraded sooner rather than later, especially if they do not adequately cover WiFi hacking. The same has already been achieved by many countries, such as the US and the UK, where hacking/'piggybacking' WiFi connections is considered illegal, causing anyone getting involved in these activities to be fined or arrested.

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