Court imposes fine for unauthorised use of wireless Internet
The use of a neighbour's wireless Internet connection without permission is illegal, according a recent decision by Salo District Court.
The verdict is believed to be the first time in which the unauthorised use of a wireless local area network has led to criminal sanctions.
Previously there was one case in which a person was convicted for using a neighbour's WLAN connection for committing a fraud.
This time the conviction was for simple use of the WLAN connection. The court found that the man who used the wireless connection of a neighbouring apartment committed a crime called "minor unauthorised use". The defendant was sentenced to six day fines.
Under the criminal law, unauthorised use involves the use of another person's property or equipment without permission. The act is considered minor if it does not cause significant harm.
The man was also accused of a data break-in into the computer system of his former employer in Salo, but the court rejected the charges.
Wireless networks and laptop computers have become increasingly common, and if a network is left without password protection, it can be easily used by outsiders.
Sometimes it is possible to use a neighbours' network accidentally. The man sentenced in Salo claims to have done just this, but the court did not believe him.
Many users of WLAN networks do not bother establishing password protection.
The Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority says that the number of unprotected networks is unknown. Some of the networks have been deliberately left open.
The man convicted in Salo says that he will appeal the matter.