@I've always maintained
To the people who replied to me, no I am not saying that this is the same as stealing a car with the keys in, or breaking into a house with an unlocked door. I don't think it is equivalent to this at all.
I do think that if you have a password on your wireless then there is very clearly a no entry sign and if you try to break it or guess passwords, then you're clearly in the wrong.
I'm talking about completely unsecured wireless networks, broadcasting an SSID and with no security. if they did not broadcast SSID then you'd have to know what it is to connect, but their router is actively advertising that there is a wireless network there.
a stranger comes along and scans for wireless networks. he might be looking for a BTopenzone or similar. he finds "Bobs wireless". he has no way or knowing whether the owner is ignorant of security conventions, or is deliberately leaving it open for strangers to use. some people do this, there there are even groups of people who do this (fonera for example).
if our stranger clicks on "bobs wireless" then his laptop attempts to connect and requests network access from the router. most routers are perfectly capable of refusing network access, but this one responds with all the data needed to access the internet. that sounds a lot like permission to me. compare "I'd like to use your bathroom" "third door on the right"
I'm not actively trying to "blame the victim" here, but the owner of the router has to take some responsibility for how his possessions act. Bob might not know how to configure a router, but I'm sure he knows how to pay someone else to do it for him.
I don't see this as being the same as "she was asking for it wearing those clothes", or "well, if he just leaves the door open then he shouldn't be surprised if I take something". there is a system here which regulates how one system can request access to network resources from another. the laptop is making that request on behalf of the user and Bob's router has responded on his behalf. if he wants it to respond differently, he should either configure it to do so, or get someone else to do it for him.
does this clarify my position, or does everyone still think I'm a burglar in my spare time? :)