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Saturday, July 17, 2004

Forget the Ethicist

When I started writing this entry, I had an annoying little ethical conundrum on my hands. You see, I was typing this entry from my dining room table using a wireless network that can best be described as, well, not mine. It seems one of my neighbours has set up a wireless router but had neglected to enforce MAC address access restriction. Put more simply, he/she had been nice/ignorant enough to share his internet connection with all of his/her neighbours. Eventhough I enjoyed this gesture of goodwill, I felt like I was standing (or sitting, as it were) on shakey ethical ground, so I decided to go see what Randy Cohen (aka the Ethicist) at the NYT had to say about this.
I was relieved to learn that Randy believes the use of "free" WIFI access points is okay, concluding his article (NYT registration required) by saying " may use but not overuse Wi-Fi hot spots you encounter." Well if the NYT's Ethicist says it's okay, it must be okay, right? Wrong. When I pushed the "Publish Post" button  I was directed to an error message. It turned out my neighbour had somehow become aware of his unwitting generosity and decided to pull the plug on his pseudo-public service. The gig was up; The party was over.
So much for trying to reason (read weasel) my way around ethical infractions by using bogus logic, backed by pseudo-ethicists like Randy Cohen.
Your Favorite (wired) Jerk


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