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Old 11-09-2012, 01:09 PM   #26
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This is NOT theft. It could just be a misunderstanding. You said: "However, the mother had asked to use my computer several times during their stay here, and I was not in the room to see what they were doing." So you DID in a way give them permission if you said yes, then left them to it. They may not (giving them benefit of the doubt) have realized that you had a limit or that downloading videos would use up so much bandwidth.

At any rate, this particular instance is not criminal... just rudeness or thoughtlessness. No sense in crucifying them, for goodness sake!
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Old 11-10-2012, 07:15 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by sciencewarrior View Post
"Stealing" is a legal term with a very precise definition, and its misuse is one of my pet peeves.
I agree. Why do people refuse to believe that 'theft' applies to services too?

For example, the precise legal definition in California [ 484(a) ] certainly includes taking services without permission. And we know that trivially valued items can be stolen. (eg: Shoplifting a packet of breathmints)

So why do you believe that 'stealing' is a legal term with a very precise definition that is being misused here?

Yes - there is the issue of implied permission. When you let someone in your home there's an implied permission to do certain things (flush the toilet, stand on the carpet, etc) - but that detail is between the two of them.

But you certainly can't say that he is misusing the term 'theft' (or 'stealing') because it is a service rather than a physical property .. or because the value is too small !

Mac
(Obviously for family reasons there's no more reason to follow up legally .. and more than if the kid pinched a packet of tic-tacs. But, unless there was genuine confusion over permission, we shouldn't kid ourselves that it isn't theft)
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Old 11-10-2012, 08:31 PM   #28
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They may not (giving them benefit of the doubt) have realized that you had a limit or that downloading videos would use up so much bandwidth.
Wanted to quote this because it's important.

I have two such business arrangements. As I'm remotely located we have two options. One is satellite (HughesNet) and our current agreement is 500mb/day. That's how it's allocated. Not a monthly limit but a daily download limit.

The other is my hotspot from ATT. It has the 5gb monthly limit.

So me, knowing this, I make sure that I have all my updates set to manual so that it doesn't automatically start installing updates on my computer in case I'm hit with a huge one like with Windows. (as an side, that actually happened one day. we were at 250mb daily download allowance and Windows hit me with 400mb of updates. as I had it set to notification - manual installment, I was able to dole the updates out over a period of days. if I hadn't, it would have tripped our limit and I would have had to wait 24 hours from the time of reaching the limit for the reset).

I say all that to say this: many people have internet access that has very high bandwidth caps so they never see the usage because normally they don't reach it. So they don't know that watching a 4 minute video on youtube is about 25mb.

Also, there are some webpages that will run video off on the side (commercials, trailers, adverts) and that will suck bandwidth off before you know it.

Was it clear to them from the outset that you had a monthly cap that was so small? Anytime someone comes in to our house and asks for access, it's the first thing I explain to them and ask that they be careful what they access. Otherwise, they'll assume it's 'unlimited'.
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Old 11-10-2012, 08:49 PM   #29
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[QUOTE=bearilou;7735898I say all that to say this: many people have internet access that has very high bandwidth caps so they never see the usage because normally they don't reach it. So they don't know that watching a 4 minute video on youtube is about 25mb. [/QUOTE]

That's true, however:

1. They didn't ask.

2. One of them would have had to enter the password. That meant looking around in someone else's house for the router, and then looking for the password.

I wouldn't invite them back, and I'd check the silverware drawer.
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:32 PM   #30
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1. They didn't ask.
While I'd agree that it was impolite not to ask first, this in and of itself doesn't necessarily imply nefarious behavior. Just an assumption that if a place has internet access, they'd have access to it.

edit to add: I just read back over the thread and I want to amend that. Once they realized the router had a password, they could have asked for it and avoided this whole thing. That she actually accessed tri's computer first, indicates to me that she realized there was a password in place.

The proper thing to do would have been to ask. It's still the polite thing to do, regardless of whether there's a password on it or not. /edit

However.

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2. One of them would have had to enter the password. That meant looking around in someone else's house for the router, and then looking for the password.
This is where I'd have the real issue and indicative of a larger problem. It's more than just rooting around to find the router to get the password. It's rooting around in someone else's house. Violation of privacy, at least to me.

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I wouldn't invite them back, and I'd check the silverware drawer.
Won't disagree there.
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Last edited by bearilou; 11-10-2012 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:43 PM   #31
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This is where I'd have the real issue and indicative of a larger problem. It's more than just rooting around to find the router to get the password. It's rooting around in someone else's house. Violation of privacy, at least to me.
Just on that: my router is sitting on my hall table next to the land-line, and I haven't actually bothered to change the WPA key. I mean, if you assume to begin with that WiFi is free, then it's kind of like checking the phone number to give to the office. I think a lot of kids are probably growing up with the presumption that ubiquitous WiFi is a public good, rather than a metered service.

I won't say this was excusable - it's clearly very rude and thoughtless - but I don't think it necessarily implies an intent to violate privacy, depending on where the router actually is. If it's right out in the open in the hallway, that seems like a public space to me, as far as guests are concerned. (Of course, if it's buried in your underwear drawer, it's more of a concern. A boundary issue.)
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:58 PM   #32
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It doesn't seem that rude to me. Maybe the kid's never been to a house with a low limit on Internet usage, so he doesn't even know that exists. To him, hitting the WPS key on your router and joining your wireless network might be no different than other things presumed acceptable to do as a houseguest, like take a shower, use a clean dry towel, turn on a fan, watch something on cable, have some juice from the fridge, or do the crossword in the paper.

All these things have a small cost, but are generally available free to a kid without asking permission. Is it theft to engage in any of those activities as a house guest? We have an implied permission to enjoy the amenities of a home when we visit someone. Sounds more like a misunderstanding. It sucks that you are almost out of data for the month, but you might consider chalking this one up to Hazards Of Houseguests, along with mysterious hairs in the bathroom, eating all the good snacks, hogging up the couch, and spilling stuff on the rug. After all, aren't these your friends?
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Old 11-10-2012, 10:13 PM   #33
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It doesn't seem that rude to me. Maybe the kid's never been to a house with a low limit on Internet usage, so he doesn't even know that exists. To him, hitting the WPS key on your router and joining your wireless network might be no different than other things presumed acceptable to do as a houseguest, like take a shower, use a clean dry towel, turn on a fan, watch something on cable, have some juice from the fridge, or do the crossword in the paper.
His mom was an active participant.
To access the WiFi on his iPad or iPod he had to:
  1. Respond to a dialog alert asking if he wanted to join the particular network
  2. Enter the password in a second dialog and click OK.

That also means verifying in some way that the network he was joining was the one from the local router if there was any other WiFi signal at all.

I'm a hard-line sort of person on this stuff since I've worked in network services and IT a very long time.
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Old 11-10-2012, 10:17 PM   #34
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Have you thought about asking the guests (the kid especially) how they accessed your WiFi? If nothing else, you can ask them to pay for it. With free WiFi so prevalent, they need to know what they're doing actually costs money. (Kind of like letting a buyer know who want to swipe a credit card for a friggin' $10 purchase that doing so costs the merchant a lot of money)
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Old 11-10-2012, 11:44 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
His mom was an active participant.
To access the WiFi on his iPad or iPod he had to:
  1. Respond to a dialog alert asking if he wanted to join the particular network
  2. Enter the password in a second dialog and click OK.

That also means verifying in some way that the network he was joining was the one from the local router if there was any other WiFi signal at all.

I'm a hard-line sort of person on this stuff since I've worked in network services and IT a very long time.
With WPS button, you don't enter a password, you just press it and then join the network, which sits un password protected for a minute or so. My folks use it at home. Regardless of how they accessed it, I think it's reasonable to assume Internets are a freely available commodity for a houseguest. If I visited someone, (I'd probably ask first cuz I'm polite but) I'd never think to worry about whether they have a low data cap.
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Old 11-11-2012, 12:08 AM   #36
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With WPS button, you don't enter a password, you just press it and then join the network, which sits un password protected for a minute or so. My folks use it at home.
iOS doesn't support WPS via the GUI because it's not secure; it is, in fact, trivial to crack.

The user attempting to connect to WPS on an iOS device has to hand-enter the password or "security key".

Note that the password and gateway name are both in clear text on a PC that has ever connected to the WPS router.

Many WPS routers, like the ones made by Cisco, will alert the admin account whenever a new MAC address/network card joins the network, because this is considered a security hazard.

I would think that removing the battery from the router might have suggested to the mother and kid that they had done something that perhaps they shouldn't have.
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Old 11-11-2012, 12:23 AM   #37
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Interesting comments, and I thank you all for thrashing this out. I do believe it is combination of theft and rudeness since the kid showed intent by actively recording the pass code that was stamped on the router, and you have to pick it up and examine it to do that. No permission was given to touch any of the computer components. My sister also caught a comment from the kid to his mother that went something like "I got the code." But she didn't put two and two together, nor did I until after the fact.

I know it was a deliberate act now, but I'm not sure if the 12 year-old boy knew the exact implications of what he was doing. He might have thought that I had DSl unlimited, and that no harm would be done. Which wasn't the case. I had to explain to the both of them exactly how my system worked and the consequences for me. Their reaction was mute--non-responsive, as though they knew they goofed up and stepped on my hospitality.

They've been warned. No more. Get your own internet access.

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