I am faced with a moral dilemma. One of my neighbours is using an unprotected wlan and therefore I could use their internet connection. The question is, should I? Could I? On a more permanent basis that is, since I am obviously using it now. Just to post this though, since I did use Word to write it.
It is not illegal. If they wanted to protect their connection, they could. Easily. Either they just haven’t bothered or they have left it unprotected on purpose.
It is not illegal to use someone else’s connection, but is it immoral? The speed of the connection has so far been either poor or extremely poor, so it probably wouldn’t slow down the owner’s connection that much. Which, of course, is the most important criterion of an action being moral or immoral – does it harm another person?
It would harm the companies offering the net connections, since one of them would lose nearly 300 euros per year. But the aim of the companies is commercial, to make money, not to help people in any way. Not aiding them in making a profit doesn’t feel too immoral.
The problem, I suppose, is the fact of someone – in this case me – getting something for free when others are paying. At least that bugs me slightly with people who don’t pay for public transport or for watching television. Not in a moral sense as such, but in the “why do I have to pay, when they don’t” sort of whine – especially as we who do pay, have to pay more because of the people who don’t. That argument probably doesn’t apply to this situation, since there’s no public service involved, but big commercial businesses instead.
Is that then why I do pay for transportation or television? The involvement of a public service? Nope. I pay for the peace of mind, since it seems preferable to worrying about someone catching and “fining” me. That is why the non-payers don’t bother me that much. They – theoretically at least – do have to worry about getting caught. And they know that their non-paying means that others pay for them. That potential worry and shame seems like a fair exchange for the money they save.
Does that mean that I have to pay with worry and shame too, if I wish to take advantage of this opportunity? And is it a shame, which would be worth 300 euros to avoid?
A moral dilemma.