Could You Be Sued for Not Securing Your Wi-Fi?
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
February 08 2012 07:05 PM ET
A lawsuit recently filed in Massachusetts could have alarming consequences for many Wi-Fi users. For the first time, a court will determine if failing to secure a home wireless router constitutes negligence by leaving your network open to unauthorized use — in this case, piracy of copyrighted material.
Downloading free movies and music is illegal if those files contain unauthorized copies that consumers would ordinarily pay for. Buy "The Help" from iTunes for $14.99 and that's fine, but download a free copy of the movie from Kickass Torrents and you could be in trouble. But now you could be held responsible if someone unknown to you accesses your Wi-Fi and downloads illegal content. Piracy by association.
San Diego-based adult filmmaker Liberty Media Holdings filed the lawsuit in late January that accused more than 50 people of illegally downloading and sharing a movie. While 13 defendants were named, up to 59 were identified only by their IP addresses, the unique number associated with a computer. That includes people who didn't actually download any movies but who failed to set up a password on their Wi-Fi network — allowing the real pirates to get online through their Internet connection. The lawsuit charges that people who leave their routers unprotected have contributed to piracy through their negligence. The defendants face statutory damages of from $3,000 to $15,000.
If Liberty Media prevails, a nonsecured network could lead to a lot more than a neighbor piggybacking on your Wi-Fi for free. Regardless, a password-secured network is important to protect you from hackers. To be safe, follow our guide to securing your home wireless network.