Monday, November 13, 2006

Ethical Dilemma

Disney charges $9.95 per day for wireless Internet access at its resorts. This access only covers the lobby and convention center areas, Internet access in one's room is another $9.95 per day.

Next door to the Youth Worker Summit I'm attending is a conference hosted by Toro Irrigation Solutions. Toro has arranged to have free wireless in its meeting halls. So when I open up my MacBook in the Youth Worker Summit reception hall, it asks me if I would like to join the "Toro" network. What should I do?

On the one hand, I'm attending an event that has not paid for wireless services and for which Internet access is not required. Since almost everything I need to do on the Internet is unrelated to the Summit, rules dictate that I should pay for wireless access just like any other guest. On the other hand, Toro's wireless network is free and practically invites me to join. Is taking advantage of location and joining the Toro network ethical?

6 Comments:

Blogger James said...

I would equate it to parking outside Panera to use their network even though I'm not hungry and not going to go inside to buy a sandwich. They offer free internet to their customers, I am not a customer at the moment but need to check my email, so why not.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Wow. Confession: I wouldn't give hopping on to their network a second thought.

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could do it, but Jesus would know.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Tim W. said...

Josh,

Here are some things to consider:

1. My rule of thumb regarding personal property, whether that property is physical, intellectual, electronic, or whatever, is:

If it does not belong to me, then I have no right taking it.

If I'd like to borrow something that belongs to someone else, then I am free to ask the owner's permission.

2. When someone "piggybacks" on another person's open WiFi network, the surfer exposes the network owner to some liability, it seems to me (I'm no lawyer, understand).

I don't know you at all, and I'm sure you'd never view child porn or do anything stupid like that, but any IP address traces would come back not to you, the would-be bandwidth-thief, but to the network owner. Many of the folks who blithely steal other peoples' network connections use the excuses of (a) their own ignorance; and/or (b) the ignorance of the Wifi network owner to excuse the behavior.

Just my two cents.

Tim

10:19 AM  
Blogger Rex Hammock said...

Can't google it now, but the NY Times magazine "ethicist" had a column on this very topic. He concluded that the Internet works because we all pay to access it -- if you pay somewhere, then you can borrow a little bandwidth elsewhere. If you don't pay for access anywhere (except, perhaps in places like the library or other spots where it is clearly designated "free" and open to the public), then you're a low-life.

12:26 PM  
Blogger James said...

I was just thinking about this a little more, and I may have just become a little more conservative. I live in a small apartment complex and my router could probably provide access to six other units easily. My neighbor's daughter does have a laptop and straight up asked one time if she could have my WEP key to use my internet. I didn't have a problem giving it to her for a day or so, but like Rex says, if she were to move in there I'd expect her to pay for her own access and not use my network.

6:25 PM  

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