• Kyodo

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The Tokyo District Court sentenced a man to eight years in prison Thursday for illegally obtaining the internet banking passwords and account details of other people and using the information to illegally remit money, but was found not guilty of “free riding” his neighbor’s Wi-Fi service.

The court ruled that the encryption key the man obtained for a neighbor’s wireless network was not a radio communication secret protected by the radio law, a decision that is likely to stir controversy over the legality of free riding, given the growing reach of wireless networks in Japan.

According to the ruling, Hirofumi Fujita, 31, opened a high-power wireless base station in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, in June 2014 without permission from the local radio communications authority and used a neighbor’s wireless signal to connect to the Internet.

Also, between February and June 2014, Fujita randomly sent out e-mail messages to lure people to a fake banking website where he stole their information and illegally remitted about ¥5 million ($44,900) to a bank account by using their IDs and passwords, the ruling said.

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