The question of whether the common law permits a neighbor to joyride on a wireless network presents novel and complex issues of tort and property law. This Article addresses the question of whether the joyriding neighbor commits an actionable trespass against the Wi-Fi operator. Part II explains how a wireless network functions, and how a neighbor is able to access that network. Part III examines whether the neighbor's conduct satisfies the elements of trespass to chattel, identifying the chattel at issue as the Wi-Fi router. Part III concludes that the neighbor's conduct satisfies the elements of trespass to chattel. Part IV examines the defenses to trespass to chattel, addressing whether joyriding is permissible when a Wi-Fi operator has not password protected the network or when the Wi-Fi operator's network interferes with the neighbor's ability to set up his or her own wireless network. Part IV concludes that neither the absence of password protection nor the presence of Wi-Fi interference should be a defense to the tortious conduct.
Accessing the Internet through the Neighbor's Wireless Internet Connection: Physical Trespass in Virtual Reality,
84 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol84/iss4/5