You generally wouldn't use something that didn't belong to you or go on someone else's property. Is using a stranger's wi-fi network a form trespassing or stealing?

How many times have you been looking for a wi-fi network and in desperation clicked on one that had the best signal and no password to protect it? Many of us can admit to either intentionally or unintentionally hopping on a strangers wi-fi account that wasn't password protected.

Maybe you have elderly parents who don't want a password to log in to their network. Could someone face criminal charges for logging in even if it is unlocked?

This is an answer we received from a local attorney:

"This depends on which state you are in.  In NY it does not appear to be illegal to join a WIFI network that is open (no- password needed to join).  However, if a password is required to join the network and you are not authorized to join then you could face criminal charges for joining as an unauthorized user.   For example, if your employer has a network that’s password protected and the only authorized users are employees and you give me (a non-employee) the password to join and I do then I could be criminally charged because I’m not an authorized user of the network because I’m not an employee." - Alex Mainetti, Mainetti & Mainetti


Even if there isn't a password you may still want to avoid who has access to your devices for security reasons.

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Data compiled from Neighborhood Scout and are up to date as of 4/26/2023

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