Piggybacking on Internet access is the practice of establishing a wireless Internet connection by using another subscriber’s wireless Internet access service without the subscriber’s explicit permission or knowledge. It is a legally and ethically controversial practice, with laws that vary by jurisdiction around the world. While completely outlawed or regulated in some places, it is permitted in others.
A customer of a business providing hotspot service, such as a hotel or café, is generally not considered to be piggybacking, though non-customers or those outside the premises who are simply in reach may be. Many such locations provide wireless Internet access as a free or paid-for courtesy to their patrons or simply to draw people to the area. Others near the premises may be able to gain access.
The process of sending data along with the acknowledgment is called piggybacking. Piggybacking is distinct from wardriving, which involves only the logging or mapping of the existence of access points.