Singapore Busts Second WiFi Stealing Criminal Mastermind

from the Disneyland-with-the-death-penalty dept

Whether or not leeching bandwidth from an open WiFi hotspot is legal may be an endless argument here in the States, but in Singapore there's no argument. WiFi freeloading is illegal, as made evident by the recent arrest of a teenager who piggybacked on his neighbor's hotspot. While the teen faced up to three years in jail, the Judge in the case is instead nudging him to enlist early in Singapore's mandatory national service "as a way to stay out of mischief." Now a second person has been arrested in the country, this time for using open hotspots in order to make bomb threats. The "threat" doesn't seem like much of a threat at all -- instead it appears he just posted a dumb, and fake, news headline on a technology website that declared: "Breaking news _ Toa Payoh hit by bomb attacks." The user not only faces up to seven years in jail and fines of up to $32,500, but is also looking at 60 charges of WiFi freeloading -- each of which carry the maximum penalty of three years in jail and a fine of up to $6,500. As with the first case, it's still not clear how exactly authorities proved he was WiFi piggybacking. In a country with no shortage of draconian rules, the Singapore government might want to take a page from Arnold Schwarzenegger, and pass laws aimed at getting people to change their default hotspot password -- lest their prisons be overrun by teenagers who forgot to disable WiFi network auto discovery.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 12:34pm

    not very sensible

    None of these punishments have actually been handed down though.

    As I've said before, disproportionate draconian punishments work against law enforcement. I would not like to be an unarmed cop in Singapore tasked with arresting someone who will get less for murdering me, or for whom the risk tradeoff favours doing so.

    I wonder if the Singapore legal system has the concept of mens rea, because if it does the only way out of the auto-discovery issue is to ban devices which have this capability from the country.

    Afaik, Singapore is a place where you can do jail time for chewing gum. Not exactly a place I would like to visit or do business with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Well put, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 12:45pm

    Right On...

    I think that sums it up perfectly

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    eq2, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 1:33pm

    Come on

    I had a friend when I played Everquest 1 that played the game and lived in Singapore in real life.

    She said they weren't allowed sex toys over there, and something like either 7 years jail or your privates sewn shut if you were caught with a dildo.

    I think that country has problems if they are afraid of unrest from people playing with sex toys....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Come on

    Yeah, but you forgot to mention that the "she" was a 13 yr. old boy from Racine, WI.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Hulser, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 1:55pm

    Could the

    Here's a scenario that turns the whole WiFi "freeloading" think on its head...

    What if you catch your kid bypassing the safety filters you have in place on your home network by using your neighbor's unsecured wireless network? If there's a law in place where you live against using the neighbor's network, then you're busted. But wouldn't the neighbor also be liable for civil damages for letting little Billy surf porn?

    I don't have any kids, so I'm not up on all of the parental filtering technology. Maybe this is a mute point because they all lock down the client machines instead of working throught the ISP or the network level. But it just seems like an unsecured wireless network is an open invitation to bypass the parental filters.

    It’s probably just a matter of time before someone who had their bandwidth “stolen” gets sued for irresponsibly leaving their network unsecured.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Could the

    They better not. Mine is wide open. SSID of "OpenNetWiFI" is broadcast to anyone who cares to look. Transmits, via SRS repeater in the Garage, halfway down the friggin' block.

    Most of my neighbors use it, and we either have a few drug dealers on my block, or folks are parking to use it.

    I have no problem with this, in fact, I encourage it. The only time I *ever* limit the bandwidth to all but my in-home devices is when I am downloading a rather large file I need ASAP.

    The internet wants to be free!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    bmac (profile), Jan 5th, 2007 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Hulser

    It's MOOT, not mute!!

    Once again, the Internet blogosphere proves who learned their spelling and language skills in grade school. It would appear that very few did.

    I'll save everyone the trouble... Yes, I'm an ass.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re: Hulser

    I was going to call you an ass, but you had to go and beat me to it, you insensitive clod!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Tashi, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 2:28pm

    What, no caning?

    The Singapore government may be draconian, but it's the cleanest city I've ever seen, the education system is absolutely second to none, the infrastructure is ultra modern and there is virtually no violent crime. Those are some tradeoffs I'd take, because the people are great.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Brian, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 2:38pm

    Tiny correction

    Maybe this is a mute point

    Moot, kthx.

    No offense. Just sayin'. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Hulser, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 3:24pm

    Moo point?

    Oh, man this is going to sound like a lame excuse, but it's an inside joke among my friends to say "mute point". I hate it when I'm hoisted by my own petard. Doh!

    It's a moo point anyway. (You know, the point a cow makes.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Solo, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 3:43pm

    *Your* wifi signal is passing through *my* walls and waving it's little hands right in front of my eyes: "use me! I'm free internet! use me"

    Just like my neighbour's apple tree: the branch that leans over *my* property bears apples that I can pick. They are mine. They are in my property.

    If you unsecured wifi is all over my house, it's free for me to use.

    You don't get arrested for listening to your neighbor's loud music finding its way to your ears...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Dan, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 4:03pm


    I totally have to agree with you here .. People have got to learn to secure their connection.

    On another note, I've driven by many businesses with my laptop on and netstumbler running in the background and found SO many un-encrypted hot-spots ... Even one with a payroll server wide open.. it's like, "WOW"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 4:21pm


    Yes Solo you're absolutely right, morally, and possibly legally in the USA and many European countries.

    But this is Singapore. Where the streets are clean and the trains run on time and Christ fucking help you if you step on the cracks in the pavement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    sfgary, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 6:10pm

    I also heard that Singapore is planning to either charge for breathing the air or limit the number of breaths you can take in a day...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    paynesmanor, Jan 6th, 2007 @ 9:56am

    I have a open wireless network, Thats left unsecured, so that others can use my internet if they wish, I let my friends come over and bring there laptops, and we all game and surf the internet. I pay for the bandwidth, I should be able to choose how I wish to use it..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Jan 7th, 2007 @ 5:27pm

    You should be allowed to use unsecured wireless connections, but there should also be a class of behaviour whioch is legal, but not reccomended, for such behaviour. THen a law can be passed which states that if you do anything in this class of behaviour, or anything worse (i.e. a misdemenour or crime), then whatever happens to you in the process or as a result is entirely your problem. THus if you use my hypothetically unsecured wireless, then if you find I have replaced the entire contents of your harddrive with some *nix version in Swahili and a heap of files which are screaming for every local versiopn of the *AA to come after your blood, and which you cannot delete until you first learn enough of the lingo to find out hat it is askinf for a password which happens to be thousands of charecters long.... and so on, that is your problem. I neer told you it was unsecured, after all. Just because you didn't realise thatI had secured it like this, there is no reason for you to complain. Also, sucha law would mean that if a bunch of kids break into a construction site and one of them falls and breaks his leg, then that is entirely his problem, and not the builder's. I would hazard that there would be few who could aregue that this latter example is unfiar.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    mohammad, Jan 12th, 2008 @ 9:57pm

    steeling wifi

    why is goverment not alowing us to use there internet
    it cald borring not steeling

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    ditto, Sep 9th, 2008 @ 3:58am


    r u sure? i dun tink so

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    ditto, Sep 9th, 2008 @ 3:59am

    Re: steeling wifi

    wa, ur eng is gd, r u a singaporean?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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