Can Retailers Who Provide Free WiFi Get Freeloaders Arrested?
from the questions-questions dept
If the coffee shop was broadcasting the WiFi in the open, inviting customers to use it, can they then have someone else arrested for using it? It's not a case where it's just some homeowner who doesn't know any better and doesn't secure his network. This network is specifically configured to be open for people to use. In this case, the guy was sitting in his truck in the parking lot using the WiFi for 3 months -- so you could make a case for trespassing once they asked him to leave, but he was charged with theft of services. Also, what if he accessed the network from the road, rather than the private property of the parking lot? Is it still trespassing, even though they broadcast out their welcoming signal that far? Finally, there certainly are technical means available to the coffee shop to prevent such freeloaders -- whether it's giving out codes to customers to simply having a splash page popup when you first get on the network, notifying users that you may only use the network if you're a paying customer. Does the fact that the shop chose not to employ those methods weaken the case against the freeloader? It seems that police and the courts in Vancouver, Washington will now get to tackle at least a few of those questions.