Let's say if my neighbor keeps his/her wifi-network security open and my wifi settings are set to automatically connect to open wireless networks as they don't need any key to access.

Then considering USA jurisdiction am I committing a crime given that I don't have any permission from my neighbor to do that.

And given this situation as an analogy, How is it different from breaking or more suitably just roaming into a house or property without doing any sort of damage, given that it was not secured or left unattended for a while.

  • Which state d'you want to know about?
    – jimsug
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 11:53

1 Answer 1


Depends on where you are. It's called piggybacking and its legality varies state to state (and possibly even county to county). You might not get caught, but if you do the penalties may include a fine or a custodial sentence.

For example, you might find yourself doing this in, say, New York - you would probably not run into legal issues there, provided you had no information to suggest your access was unauthorised.

Different laws and principles apply to trespass to land, which exists to vindicate your right to exclusive use and enjoyment of your property - you can't enter someone else's land except where consent is implied. For example, if you have an unlocked front gate and a path that leads up to the front of the house, you'd be able to walk up to it for the purpose of going to the front door to visit. On the other hand, you probably would not be entitled to swim in the backyard pool, or enter the house, even if the gate/door was unlocked - but it'd depend on the specific case.

  • In Washington state we have codified laws known as RCWs of which RCW 9.26A.110 is one that pertains to fraud as it relates to telecommunications services. That is to say that it is illegal to get internet services through spoofing or otherwise using a false indicator to do so such as a name or phone number (as would be the case if it were a DSL connection). It might get weird if you are talking about entrapment or some other decpetive means of setting up a honeypot to get people to connect, esp. without some legally certified means to do so.
    – Chezzwizz
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 19:04

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