Ontario, Canada.
I'd like to operate an open, free WiFi hotspot for public consumption, not associated with any business.

Per Wikipedia :

In Canadian law, unauthorized access is addressed the Criminal Code, s 342.1, which provides that: "Every one who, fraudulently and without colour of right" obtains "computer services" from an access point is subject to criminal charges.

However, I'm finding it difficult to find information on legal considerations for the reverse - intentionally allowing anyone to piggyback off a wireless network.

Security is not a concern, except perhaps between wireless clients.
I don't intend to log connection details, unless the law requires (?).
I may or may not setup a captive portal with terms and conditions, if it lessens my liability.

I expect that I would ultimately be responsible for what goes out my Internet connection.

However, what other legal considerations am I missing ?
For example, does Canadian law in this case require that I maintain certain network logs ?

  • 2
    Your upstream internet service provider will have a TOS that addresses your sharing of that connection and may restrict it. Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 14:35
  • Thanks ! That is a good consideration I hadn't made. I would be willing to look into a small business Internet plan that does allow/expect "commercial" use, even if I don't present the open WiFi as belonging to a business.
    – robut
    Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 15:07

1 Answer 1


Any connection you have to the Internet as a individual or business user will be via an upstream provider - be it an ISP, a telco, company, government or NGO - and they will have a full TOS for usage of their connection. You may or may not be able to legally share the connection, or be able to share it in certain instances; you need to check with them.

If they allow sharing, and as a result, you do set up a WiFi network for use by the public, you may still want your own TOS for your own liability, since you will own the router and WiFi transmitter and be an identified customer of the upstream provider; they will be logging traffic and IP addresses of the people using their service under your agreement with the provider.

Security is a concern, both because of users acting badly against others on the internet as a whole; this is what could cause you problems from the ISP and the possible victims. But also, users may act badly against others on the WiFi network itself, especially packet sniffing (even if you require a WiFi password, which would be the same password for all users).

You could add a TOS with an access screen that requires a user to click-through to access and agree to your terms. Many popular WiFi routers have this feature as an option. Since Click wrap contracts (Wikipedia) are legally binding, this will afford you some liability protection.

Of course, in the big picture, your mileage will vary according to jurisdiction.

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