Dutch court rules that WiFi hacking is legal
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Deutsch: Niederlande: Hacken von WLAN-Verbindungen nicht rechtswidrig
A Dutch court in The Hague has recently ruled that by-passing an encrypted router and using its WiFi connection does not infringe Dutch law.
The decision of the court comes in relation to the case of a young man having posted a threat on an Internet message board by using a WiFi connection he had hacked into. Although the student was convicted for posting the threatening message and sentenced to 20 hours of community service, he was acquitted of the WiFi hacking charges.
The court considered that the student had not obtained access to the computer connected to the router, but only used the router which, in the terms of Dutch legislation, is legal as only breaking into a computer is forbidden.
In The Netherlands, a computer is defined as a machine that is used for data storage, processing and transmission. Therefore, a router cannot be considered a computer because it is only used for data transferring or processing and not storing. Hence, hacking a device that is not a computer is legal and cannot be prosecuted in the court of law..
Therefore, actions such as piggybacking on open Wi-Fi networks in places such as bars and hotels, which in some countries is considered illegal and can be fined, cannot, according to the Dutch court decision, be prosecuted in The Netherlands.
The Dutch Attorney General has appealed the verdict and the High Court of The Netherlands will review the case within two years to rule on whether a router can be defined as a computer under Dutch law. It is also possible that the law might be updated in the meantime.
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