Another Man Arrested For Using Free Cafe WiFi
from the but-why? dept
Will it never end? Just months after a guy was arrested in Alaska for using free library WiFi from outside the library, Broadband Reports points us to a man in Michigan getting arrested for using free cafe WiFi from outside the cafe. The story gets more bizarre the further into you read. The police chief saw the guy, and went over to talk to him, thinking it must be wrong, but not knowing of any law that said so. Following that, he went searching for a law, and found an old law about unauthorized access — which is designed to make hacking illegal. Of course, that’s not what the guy was doing, and you could make a pretty compelling argument that the access wasn’t unauthorized. After all, the cafe was offering it for free and there was no loss to the cafe for having this guy use it as well. In fact, the cafe owner didn’t even know it was illegal either. Once again, this is based on a bunch of people being extremely confused about how open WiFi works. If the WiFi is open, it should not be a crime to use it. Do the police go around arresting people who use the light coming out of a store window to read something? Also, does this mean that police can now arrest you just for using a laptop in your car? As someone who has used a laptop with an EVDO card in parking lots more than a few times, are the police going to accuse me of “stealing” WiFi? The whole situation is pointless. Nothing is being “stolen.” Nothing is even being accessed in an unauthorized manner. Even professional ethicists have chimed in to say that there’s nothing wrong with WiFi piggybacking. So why was Sam Peterson potentially facing five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine?