No Liability for Open Wireless Networks

Some of the information on this Web page has been provided by external sources. The Government of Canada is not responsible for the accuracy, reliability or currency of the information supplied by external sources. Users wishing to rely upon this information should consult directly with the source of the information. Content provided by external sources is not subject to official languages, privacy and accessibility requirements.
Submitted by infzy 2010-05-28 02:15:35 EDT

Theme: Digital Infrastructure
Idea Status: +18 | Total Votes: 28 | Comments: 2

Personal wireless networks may be 'open' to connections; allowing any device within range to access the network or Internet, without a password or other authentication. Open networks are the simplest to setup and make work with any compliant device. They are the most convenient for allowing guests of one’s residence to borrow one's Internet access.

Furthermore, many Canadians like to provide their open network as a public service. That is, to freely provide a "piggyback" connection to the Internet through their wireless router, to anyone in range, without a password. This provides a convenience to one’s surroundings. Reasons to open the network may be for the sake of education, charity, or simply interest. Wireless networks could be opened in one's home, at a library/community centre/church, or at a business (ex. a local coffee shop).

Currently, Canadian law is unclear about who is liable in the case of a network "piggybacker" who commits unlawful activity on the Internet using a borrowed connection. If liability for these actions is assigned to the provider of the network (if it was unsecured by accident or intentionally, as a service), this would effectively remove the rights of Canadians to open their networks. Effectively, it would prevent Canadians from engaging in convenient, charitable, and socially beneficial behaviour.

This Idea is to encode into law that a criminal's unlawful actions taken on the Internet are their own responsibility, and that the network provider(s) are not criminally liable for an end-user's behaviour on the network. Thus, Canadians can be free to open their networks as a convenience to themselves, their guests, and their environment.

For Canada to expand and encourage its digital infrastructure, as well as the digital savviness of Canadians, then we should be free to own and operate password-free open wireless networks.


R — 2010-06-04 10:21:12 EDT wrote

As someone running an open mesh node in the heart of the city I totally agree with you! Further more, to let the network grow and reach others, make it illegal for ISP to stop you from redistributing what you got from them.

Who these days doesn't have a NAT at home and share with family? I remember ISP making a big fuss about that clause at first and I'm sure it's still there somewhere.

Same goes for allowing servers: the connection is bandwidth, not thought control, allow them explicitly! The network is bidirectional anyway, banning servers is artificial scarcity that is not helping the economy.

Karlh64 — 2010-07-13 11:50:30 EDT wrote

I think we need to balance availability and openness with responsibility. Allowing just anybody to use our facilities and then not take any responsibility for what they may do with them is irresponsible. As altruistic as we may feel, there are far too many cases of abuse using the internet to think that this can't happen and that everyone will use this for enlightening goals.


The public consultation period ended on July 13, 2010, at which time this website was closed to additional comments and submissions.

Between May 10 and July 13, more than 2010 Canadian individuals and organizations registered to share their ideas and submissions. You can read their contributions—and the comments from other users—in the Submissions Area and the Idea Forum.

Email to a Friend

Your email address has not been added to any list, and has not been retained on our site.

Share this page

To share this page, select the social network of your choice:

No endorsement of any products or services is expressed or implied.