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 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, encryption was not turned on at the time.
It is not clear how the law might be interpreted in the case of accidental connection to a wireless network, although Straszkiewicz apparently had a record of hijacking links deliberately, and this would have counted against him in court.
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.