The UK has seen its first conviction for hijacking a Wi-Fi connection without permission.
Gregory Straszkiewicz has been handed a £500 fine and a 12-month conditional discharge from a court in Isleworth for breaking sections 125 and 126 of the Communications Act of 2003, which made it an offence to use bandwidth without the consent of its owner.
According to police, he had used a laptop to get access to the Internet using residential wireless access points on a number of occasions before his arrest. As with the vast majority of such access points, the links did not have encryption turned on at the time, which in most cases would have made access to them trivial.
It is not clear how the law might be interpreted in the case of accidental connection to a wireless network, though Straszkiewicz apparently had a record of hijacking links deliberately, and this would have counted against him in court in this this first use of the law.
Earlier this month, a man in the US was arrested and charged for precisely the same deliberate use of a neighbour's wireless bandwidth from a laptop in his car.