Illegality of Surfing in Someone Else's Wi-Fi

The Grand Criminal Chamber (Große Strafkammer) of the LG Wuppertal published a verdict whether you can be sentenced for surfing on somebody else's unprotected Wi-Fi network, October 19, 2010 (re 25 Qs 177/10). What do you bet its answer was?


Jack was caught on the spot while using a neighbor's Wi-Fi without permission and especially without any financial contribution. The lower courts denied Jack's criminal liability of. And the 25th Grand Chamber of LG Wuppertal also denied liability. This neighbor had an unsecured Wi-Fi i.e. a wireless network where you do not need login details to access the Internet; even the router's name was publicly visible because it was not hidden. A word to technicalities: In order to communicate inside a network every computer constantly shouts into the network its name and simultaneously cries out for any information to be received. Understand this "Hya all in the LAN, I'm Jack's computer. Does anybody have anything for Jack?" And all computers respond.

The court denied liability pursuant to §§89 cl. 1, 148 I no. 1 TKG because Jack did use any confident communication but just became himself a participant in communication. Jack's action did not fulfill illegal retrieval or acquiring of person related data in terms of §§43 II no. 3, 44 BDSG. Neither while dialing in nor surfing did Jack access any person related data.

The court also did not recognize any criminal violations of §202b StGB (phishing), §§263a I, II, 263 II, 22 StGB (attempted computer fraud), §202a StGB (data espionage), §265a StGB (obtaining services by deception).

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