Wi-fi owner in Germany fined for poor wi-fi security

Airport Wi-Fi
Image by slambo_42 via Flickr

It seems that the law is starting to take notice of the security risks of poor wireless network security, if the recent experience of one German citizen is anything to go by.

A German court has recently ruled that German citizens are responsible for the security of their own private wireless connections. What’s more, it has proved its point by ruling that a musician had the right to sue the owner of a network connection that had been used to illegally download and file-share music.

The owner had proof that the householder was on holiday at the time but the court ruled that the network should have been password-protected.

The court’s verdict was that the owner could be fined up to 100 euros (£86).

“Private users are obligated to check whether their wireless connection is adequately secured to the danger of unauthorized third parties abusing it to commit copyright violation,” the court in Karlsruhe said.

While it did not find the owner guilty of actual copyright violation the ruling was that the person must take a degree of responsibility for their connection being used to break the law.

In a similar case in the UK in 2005, Gregory Straszkiewicz was fined £500 and given a 12 months conditional discharge for using the wireless network of an Ealing resident without permission. The owner of the network was not charged.

However, this may change n the future and if you are running a wireless network that is unsecured, or even running the easily cracked WEP security protocol, now would be a good time to make sure your network is secure. You may get fined by the courts just yet but having an insecure network is asking for trouble. If you don’t wish to become a victim of identity theft then you should certainly be running the WPA/WPA2 protocol.

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2 thoughts on “Wi-fi owner in Germany fined for poor wi-fi security

  1. You’ve got to be kidding me! This is like suing the owner of a Trojan infected computer for attacking someone else’s computer, because the owner is suppose to prevent his computer from getting hacked. I can see how a law like this applies to someone’s dog biting a person, but Wi-Fi?

    Courts should help educate the uninformed by sending them to the equivalent of “traffic court” for computer security – not fine them. =/

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