Another Wifi "Thief" is Arrested

20 comments

Police in Michegan have arrested a man for sitting out in his car, using a cafe's wifi. The charge is a felony, carrying a maximum five year sentence and $10,000 fine.

Original story

This seems ridiculous, since people can restrict unauthorized access by requiring password login. In some states, I don't think you can charge someone with trespassing if there aren't any signs nor locked doors, and it should be the same with this. What the guy did is tantamount to listening to the radio.

Makes me glad that I recently upgraded to fiber-optic in my house, so I no longer am using some neighbor's open wifi...

Comments

Meanwhile the vice president

Meanwhile the vice president counts the billions he made off an illegal war. Weird country.

That is such bull I cannot

That is such bull I cannot believe it. Talk about a PR stunt. No DA worth their salary would pursue a case like this unless they wanted their name in the papers.

It sounds ridiculous

It sounds ridiculous. He was the most unlucky person In 2007 if convicted.

The most unlucky person In 2007

As a first-time offender without a prior record, the Kent County prosecutor's office decided not to charge Peterson with a felony. Instead, he'll be enrolled in the county's diversion program.

He'll pay a $400 fine and do 40 hours of community service, but it will not go on his record.

I think he's already come to deal according to the article? Harsh though.

bullllll shiiiiiii t

He has to pay a fine and do community service for wifi "borrowing"? Cut to the chase was he doing something else really? Stalking perhaps?

Stalking perhaps?

Sparta Police Chief Andrew Milanowski was suspicious of what Peterson was doing in his car every day and talked with him.

He didn't issue a ticket, but he did hit the books. "I had a feeling a law was being broken," the chief said, "but I didn't know exactly what." He found a relatively new and rarely used law. "Unauthorized use of computer access," he said.

Well IMO Police Chief Milanowski either has way too much time on his hands or this guy had just slept with his wife...

>He found a relatively new

>>He found a relatively new and rarely used law.

Sounds like they were after Al Capone

He could of gone into the

He could of gone into the cafe, got some water for free, and then used it that way. How is this any different? It's not like he was intercepting traffic and wep keys anyway.
I hope google eventually rids the world of all this wifi stealing crap and gives everyone free wifi/wimax in exchange for signing up for a google account.

unbelievable stupidity

Either that cafe was urging the cop to do something and perhaps doesn't want the public to know about it, or that Chief was really socially challenged. There are so many bad and outdated laws on the books, the last thing any citizen wants is a cop who looks for laws to enforce to observed circumstances.

"county's diversion program"

Quote:
As a first-time offender without a prior record, the Kent County prosecutor's office decided not to charge Peterson with a felony. Instead, he'll be enrolled in the county's diversion program.

He'll pay a $400 fine and do 40 hours of community service, but it will not go on his record.

I hope they didn't do "deferred adjudication". If so, it will still "go on his record". This raises a whole other issue -- now that so many people buy and re-host those databases for background checks, the concept of "not go on his record" is a complete myth.

Policemans discretion at

Policemans discretion at work.

Quite possibly they just wanted this guy out of the neighborhood, sounds like he was acting skeevy, I wouldn't get up in arms over wifi "rights".

CNN video

They now have a vid segment on CNN about this story.

..

Quote:
... but it will not go on his record.

I call Bull Shit on that.

Everything the police do in this Country is on the record... Don't believe me... ever seen the NCIC db? I have and I can tell you for a fact EVERYTHING is on the record, everything and they never delete anything.

IANAL

silver re " I don't think you can charge someone with trespassing if there aren't any signs nor locked doors"

I think your wrong their walking into an unlocked house and stealing is still stealing.

Also the TKMAX hack (http://news.zdnet.co.uk/security/0,1000000189,39286991,00.htm) which netted Frak no's how many Creditcards was done in a similar maner

Maybe the cop was actualy paying attention

Rgds M

ps 45 milion Cards BTW

hackers cracked the WEP

hackers cracked the WEP encryption protocol used to transmit data between price-checking devices, cash registers and computers at a store in Minnesota.

Hmmm not quite the same. They cracked the WiFi encryption to get in on the network. Looks like this guy just linked up to an open connection (admittedly without having the courtesy to buy a coffee from the provider)

This is a big problem with WiFi though, there are so many people now buying wireless routers without a clue on how to secure them. I set my folks up with one last Christmas and we're the only password protected network in the close - all the neighbors were asking how my Dad did it!

mjwalshe is right...

mjwalshe, you're right - if you walk into an unlocked house and take something, it's still stealing. But, I was suggesting that he just walked in, browsed around, and left, leaving the owner no poorer, and nothing damaged.

Probably not a great metaphor on my part.

It's a lot more like someone turning on the radio, listening to the music, and then being charged for unauthorized access to the radio station's airwaves.

This was a complete misapplication of the law in Michegan. That law was specifically written to use against hacking. If I go back to my bad metaphor, hacking would be picking a lock or breaking down a door to go in somewhere without authorization. Walking through an open door is just not the same thing.

There was no criminal intent and no hacking involved with this guy. No one was materially harmed.

The whole thing is nearly enough to make me join the Libertarian Party. We have too damn many laws about silly stuff in this nation, and every year more are added. If "ignorance is not an excuse", then we need to have reasonable limits on how many laws there are. An average joe needs to be able to reasonably know what the rules are, or else everyone is in trouble.

Perhaps we should found a wiki project to start researching all the various laws that the prosecutors and police in this case have likely broken, and get them charged with something. Betcha they've broken some law, some how. Give 'em a bit of their own medicine as an example of what it is that they did wrong here.

Isn't loitering with intent

Isn't loitering with intent a crime? That would be more appropriate here.

Yeah, but you'd have to

Yeah, but you'd have to prove intent (unless there's a statute equivalent to "blocking the Queens Highway"). Since the only potentially dodgy activity that intent could be proved for is using the WiFi, and it's questionable whether it's use was illegal, that leads to a circular argument.

Ultimately, this is an extreme example of tech being way ahead of the law. Those responsible for creating and enforcing the law have no real idea what's going on in the real world, and aren't up to the task of dealing with it.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that since WiFi is a broadcast medium, and it is possible to secure it without undue hassle, it should be the owners responsibility to see to it. I'd allow that hardware / software manufacturers should perhaps have a responsibility to provide better documentation and / or easy to use software to make the process easier for the technologically challenged (some sort of "password wizard" during setup, or at least clear step-by-step instructions in the manual), but after that it's the operators responsibility to secure it.

If, after due consideration, it is decided that unauthorised WiFi connection usage is tantamount to stealing, and legislation is passed clarifying the matter, that wouldn't be so bad. Firstly, open access advocates would have a chance to make their case during the legislative process, and secondly, explicit, clear legislation on the subject would provide a clear test, and could be subsequently modified if the original law was seen to be deficient. The current situation, where cops are trawling the books looking for woolly laws that kind of fit, in order to make a collar is a poor do, IMO

Quote:

Quote:
I'm of the opinion that since WiFi is a broadcast medium, and it is possible to secure it without undue hassle, it should be the owners responsibility to see to it.

I agree completely.

What gets to me in this story is law enforcements 'zeal' to arrest someone. I am sure that cop could have put his time to more productive use, like tracking down missing children, chasing a rapist or murder down or maybe just taking a second or two to catch that son of a bitch that keeps stealing the plastic pink Flamingos out of my yard...

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