Saudi issues Wi-Fi theft fatwa ahead of Ramadan

WiFi theft fatwa
Saudis agreed with the ban on Wi-Fi theft, but said networks should be password-protected

Connecting to your neighbour’s open Wi-Fi signal without his knowledge is against Islam, a Saudi scholar says.

Ali Al Hakami, a member of the high scholars’ commission, banned such use of others’ Wi-Fi without their knowledge, saying that Islam could not tolerate theft, Gulf News reports.

The move comes just ahead of Ramadan, when internet and social media usage spikes.

“Taking advantage of the Wi-Fi service illegally or without the knowledge of other beneficiaries or providers is not allowed,” Al Hakami said.

“The clear permission of the beneficiary or the provider is a must. Any provider or user who pays money for the Wi-Fi service should be consulted before using it. When the Wi-Fi service is open such as in parks, malls, cafeterias, hotels and government departments, then there is no problem since it is meant to be used by the people or clients,” he added.

Al Hakam’s fatwa matches a view expressed in April by Dubai’s Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department.

“There is nothing wrong in using the line if your neighbours allow you to do so, but if they don’t allow you, you may not use it,” the view expressed on the department’s website said in response to a question asked by a reader.

Saudi online users said they agreed with the ban on stealing Wi-Fi services from neighbours, but insisted that people should use passwords to make sure there is no theft.

“We do not need a religious edict to pinpoint such basic things,” Al Aneed said. “Private property should remain private, especially [since] the owner paid money for the services. Nobody should just take advantage.”

However, one user writing under the moniker of Al Shanfara said that religious leaders should instead put pressure on providers who cut off the services or slow them down during the weekends.