Strange thing, theft, isn’t it interesting how we can all accept it as a crime, that it is wrong to steal, funny that the most part of us can say with all seriousness that we would not steal a thing… but is it true? In this digital age, how many of us have downloaded music without paying for it? More to my point, how many of us have connected to a person’s wireless Internet connection without first asking? If it’s ok for you, is it ok for a business?
I’ve just checked my emails, and reviewed the afternoon’s news using the WiFi connection that is clearly advertised in this Costa Coffee in the center of Perth. I sat down, opened my laptop up and was automatically signed on to the open network, I opened up the wireless menu to check I was signed on correctly to find a list of three networks available, expecting to see a network name such as Costa I am surprised to only find three generic looking names that are the sign of a basic network with little expertise managing it, a home network. Confused I step up to the counter and ask the barista which network I should be using, she smiles and tell me just to try the one with the best signal, after spotting my raised eyebrow she explains to me that “We just use the ones that other people have running upstairs.”
A little shocked I go back to my table and look up at the picture on the wall that tells me that this is indeed an Internet enabled cafe.
So why does a company like Costa Coffee feel it’s ok to use someone else’s wireless internet access that has been paid for with the owners money and advertise it to the public as their own freely distributed account? Is it not stealing?
I enquired with some as to what their beliefs on this matter were, it was surprising to hear just how many thought it was perfectly fine to use other peoples internet access. Now I’d like to point out that I am not a hypocrite and so I must confess, I have regularly used other peoples’ internet access, I have often sat on a bench and connected up to a near by network without any knowledge of whom it belongs to. I usually justify this with an excuse like I’m just checking my emails or reading the news. I generally think it’s ok to use peoples internet access, but I think there is a limit where as some of the people I spoke to said that they don’t actually have internet access at home but that they take it from the neighbours wireless connection.
People pay for their internet to work at a certain speed and a person connecting to their access point won’t take away from that as long as they’re not using it for heavy use, such as gaming, or downloading large files. But then, if a large amount of people are connecting at the same time as is the case in Costa Coffee of Perth, then there is no way that the access point can be running at its full potential, so the justification is gone, because yes, I may be checking my emails, but then so are two other people behind me, and those guys in the corner are playing multiplayer computer games with each other using the same network, so this establishment is running a fully operational, illegal internet cafe and all the while, the owner of the wireless router we’re all connected to, is wondering why they can’t download a simple file in less than twenty minutes.
I’d like to finish my rant with this small point, Costa Coffee of Perth, you have a phone line, you can run a WiFi network for less that