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Question
In my apartment in Massachusetts, I am the one who pays for the internet initially, the other roommates pay me back, largely everybody paying an equal share of the internet. One of my roommates has set up a router that is his property to act as our main router. I honestly don't quite trust this and would prefer the router be mine. The legal question comes in three parts from our discussion on the topic of what happens if I decide as the owner of the internet to prevent him from having access to it. This would probably be implemented in a way where after the current pay period completed, he would not be offered to be part of the internet for the next period.

The first part:
Is it possible to remove a roommate from my internet like this? If there is a proper way to implement this, please explain how if possible.

The second part:
He states that he is pretty sure that if I do something like this, that if the other roommates vote to take control of the internet to allow him back on that this is enforceable. Is there anything to this?

The third part:
If I were to do this, and I change the WiFi password, and he obtains it through some method (example: being given it by other roommates even though it is known to all users that he is not to be given the password) that he is not guilty of unauthorized use of my internet. Is this true/can he still be punished for it? Another section of this part is that the network does have cables we set up across the apartment, what if he uses one without having received my personal permission to do so while knowing he is forbidden to do so?

Further note:
Of all of us at this apartment only two are official tenants in the sense that we signed the lease paperwork. The landlord is aware of the rest of the roommates but has not had them sign anything. The friend in question is not one of the official tenants. There are no existing written agreements amongst the roommates (other then the two lease-holders) and there are no verbal agreements that could conflict with any of the above situations.

Thank you for your time.

Answer
Marcus,

I think your bigger issue is living under one roof with an unresolved dispute like this. In short, there is no simple answer to any of your questions. Without any verbal or written agreements between you regarding the use of the Internet and the router, you're simply inviting conflict by taking any course of action without some form of understanding between all of you.

I suggest that if you plan on keeping this particular individual as a tenant with you, schedule some time when all of you can sit down and attempt to work out whatever problems are driving this particular issue.

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Dan Pepper

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I can answer questions regarding all forms of Internet, technology, and multimedia law. Specific areas may include: website terms and conditions, privacy policies, copyright, trademark, domain name disputes, software and technology licensing, and website and software development agreements. More information can be found at informationlaw.com.

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I've practiced law since 1994, representing dozens of ecommerce, Internet, and software companies.

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NJ State Bar Association PA State Bar Association American Bar Association American Corporate Counsel Association Internet & Computer Law Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association Somerset County Business Partnership Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Licensing Executives Society Free Speech Coalition Board of Advisors, Stevens Institute of Technology Communications

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