Singapore WiFi Thieving Teen Sentenced To Eighteen-Month Probation

from the password-protect-your-router dept

We've been tracking the crackdown on those nefarious WiFi freeloaders over in Singapore, where checking your email via an unsecured hotspot can now net you a three year prison term and $6,500 fine. The first person busted was a seventeen-year-old kid, the once murky details of his arrest now made clear with his conviction and sentencing. Apparently the teen tried to grab a WiFi signal from his front yard after his mom confiscated his modem. A neighbor saw the kid chatting, concluded he was up to no good, and turned him in to the police. While the young criminal mastermind avoided jail, he faces an eighteen-month probation -- part of which will be spent in a boys' home. Based on a social worker's assessment, the Judge also seems to think it would also be a good idea if he receives therapy for his video game addiction. He's also banned from accessing the Internet during those eighteen months, a generally ineffective punishment that makes working difficult -- since most jobs utilize some kind of Internet access. The Internet is just too tightly woven into our lives (VoIP connections, interactive IPTV, 3G phones) to make Internet bans reasonably enforceable. Of course, it's not clear how this WiFi freeloading issue is going to be handled in Singapore going forward -- since the government is planning to offer its own 512kbps WiFi for everyone to freeload on anyway.
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  1. identicon
    KC, 16 Jan 2007 @ 2:30pm

    Wow. Sux to be him. "Singapore to have nationwide WiFi by year's end", and he gets nailed before free WiFi.

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

  2. identicon
    a, 16 Jan 2007 @ 2:41pm

    KC, kind of like being the last person killed in a war, huh?

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

  3. identicon
    misanthropic humanist, 16 Jan 2007 @ 2:44pm

    good result, shaky premise

    Hoorah! Some sensible justice. Remember - this was the guy who faced 100 years in the electric needle chair or something grotesque. He won't do any time, and he might even get help that improves his life if the story source is to be trusted.

    An interesting comparison will be to see how this measures up against the US woman facing 40 years for a non-crime that she didn't commit.

    In both cases though, there is still a huge issue to be dealt with. None of us know the exact details of either case. But there is apparently no mens rea in either case, which is unacceptable. Nobody can be guilty of a crime where they had no idea they were committing it. That's not the same as *ignorance* of a crime (knowledge of action but ignorance of criminality), it is where the person is absolutely passive in the crime, lacking intent, such as when a computer makes an "illegal" connection to a network by auto-discovery.

    Going further - If the property of a person, acting on its own outside the control of its owner, causes a crime to transpire then should the owner be liable? In the case of a dangerous dog or a runaway motor vehicle then maybe the answer is yes. But with a computer, which can act independently of any expectation of the owner I think the answer should be no. And what is more, the manufacturer of the property should be liable, especially if that product is shipped without safety measures in place.

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

  4. identicon
    KC, 16 Jan 2007 @ 2:46pm

    A, a little extreme (about the war), but more like buying a new TV and then find out that there's a 90% next week, but your sale is not refundable.

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

  5. identicon
    Phlatus the Elder, 16 Jan 2007 @ 2:53pm

    Considering that Singapore canes vandals (remember Michael Fay?) and hangs drug dealers, it sounds like this lad got off lightly.

    Pity we didn't send Canter & Siegel to Singapore. A good public caning may have stopped SPAM in its tracks.

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

  6. identicon
    Nate Pizzuto, 16 Jan 2007 @ 3:00pm

    Caining this is not!

    Well does it beat the CANING for spitting gum on the side walk?

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

  7. identicon
    Chris, 16 Jan 2007 @ 4:01pm

    stupid people and stupid things

    The jacktwat who called the police because some kid was eating up 15kpbs for an IM is probably the same moron who voted (they have voting? dont care really..) in the people who create this type of legistlation. Point is that if you're stupid enough to leave your router unsecured then your too stupid to understand what happens when people use your service, and likely you won't even notice the bandwidth change unless they're torrenting all of your 2 megs worth of pipe.

    Next we'll see a 65 year old woman thrown in jail because the laptop her grandkids got her, so she could e-mail them from her vacation to signapore, was set to auto authenticate to the best signal. Sucks to be her, she leeched, she deserves the time, and iggnorance doesn't excuse you from the law. God I love irony.

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

  8. identicon
    Phlatus the Elder, 16 Jan 2007 @ 4:06pm

    Re: Caining this is not!

    Exactly my point. I expected they'd give him at least a couple swats across his rump with the rattan. What he got seems unusually mild punishment for Singapore. Then again, I haven't been following recent judicial trends down there. Maybe they're mellowing out?

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

  9. identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, 16 Jan 2007 @ 11:09pm


    caning for spitting gum on the pavement rather than putting it in the bin (or for littering in general perhaps) is not to unreasonable. If policemen carried a switch as well as a truncheon, then instead of an on the spot fine they could hit you a couple of times, and that might stop people littering.

    Hanging drug smugglers isn't necessarily a bad idea either provided thare is no chance that they knew about the drugs (so that cases such as the corby case do not lead to hangings), which can be determined by the location of the drugs. If thy are in a bodily orifice, or strapped to the body, then you must know the drugs are there.

    OTOH, locking up leachers is not right, and I have already made my views on teh subject well known on this site I hope.

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

  10. identicon
    Dave, 17 Jan 2007 @ 8:25am

    Re: stupid people and stupid things

    Sorry but i agree and disagree with that statement. If its not legal then yes i think people should get punished for stealing, i wouldnt want someone doing it to me " I pay for my service" On the flip side, people need to be aware of this type of theft and take steps to protect themselves from it, or they in fact leave their stuff wide open.

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

  11. identicon
    simon, 17 Jan 2007 @ 9:39am

    nezt on topic for social education :

    Computer driving licenses , u get one, you're liable for any damage u do from pc, you don't have one, you're not allowed without monitoring and behavior monitoring software to go online :))

    ps : i will start issue licenses upon a brief class+test fora minimum fee of 5$, presence unnecessary :)

    pay here ->

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

  12. identicon
    KevinG79, 17 Jan 2007 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: stupid people and stupid things

    If its not legal then yes i think people should get punished for stealing, i wouldnt want someone doing it to me

    *Rolls Eyes* We're talking about a kid connecting to an UNSECURED ROUTER to check his e-mail. He didn't hack into their home network and plant a virus on the connected PCs. He didn't copy personal data.. he just used the connection for 15k of e-mail and IM traffic. Was it morally wrong to go on someone else's network? Sure. But I don't think the damn government has any say in it. Like others have said. If you're the type of moron who's too stupid to SECURE your wireless network then you DESERVE to have "bandwidth thieves" logging in to your network. Seriously. I think it should be illegal for these IDIOTS to operate an UNSECURED network. Stupid is as stupid does. People why whine and cry about someone accessing their unsecured network is the same as those who get all upset when someone breaks into their house (or car) because they were too stupid not to LOCK THE DOORS. Cry me a river. If you're such a moron, you deserve to be stole from. Maybe it'll teach you a lesson.

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jan 2007 @ 1:25pm

    Humans deserve misery

    That kid could have grown up to cure cancer. Now he'll be so bitter towards society, he will always look out for number 1. Great lesson! What a terrible waste of our most important resource: the future.

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

  14. identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, 17 Jan 2007 @ 6:25pm

    How about...

    If it is unsecured then you can use the connection

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

  15. identicon
    zomber, 18 Jan 2007 @ 5:35am

    When the door to your room isn't locked, it doesn't mean that someone can go in and steal something from you. That's the same principle. By accessing someone else's network without authorization, he also already showed malicious intent, it doesn't matter if he used it for email or IM whatsoever. He's lucky he doesn't get any jail time. However, I do agree that one should at least set up some form of security on their networks to prevent the incident from happening.

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

  16. identicon
    Illogical Sentence, 18 Jan 2007 @ 8:42am


    Mate, you need to differentiate between keeping your door closed, someone purposely break in to steal and keeping your door open and telling ppl that "you may come in"

    Generally, there are 3 scenarios here.

    Keeping your door open and telling ppl that"you may come in" - Broadcasting your network SSID and telling ppl it's unsecured

    Keeping your door closed - Disable broadcasting your SSID

    Keeping your door locked and say "you may come in if you have the keys' - Broadcasting your network SSID and securing it

    I don't think there's any context for stealing if you are on the 1st scenario. If you attempt to prevent access and some1 breaks in, then that's stealing.

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

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2007 @ 10:38am

    America is going down the toilet

    I heard this on the radio today. A man is stopped by the police, they take his car, break it apart to look for drugs, find nothing, and then tell the man he can have his broken car back.

    The man stopped has never broken a law in his life. He has never even smoked a cigarette. Yet, without even a warrant, his car is stolen from him and recked. He has no legal recourse because the police are just doing their jobs to make us safe.

    How the fcuk is this not stealing? We need to lock up the cops who pull crap like this and leave poor kids alone.

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

  18. identicon
    JC, 18 Jan 2007 @ 12:42pm

    Re: America is going down the toilet

    Join and support the ACLU. They are continously trying to protect you from govt excesses.

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

  19. identicon
    Woody, 18 Jan 2007 @ 1:41pm

    At best this is trespass...

    It’s stupid to call this "stealing" or make a "door" analogy about a radio signal. You're not taking something and removing it permanently from the person who "owns" it. It’s a radio signal, which one must note was being broadcast into someone else’s yard.

    If you want to analogize about it, it’s more like trespass. It's like a kid taking a stroll across your lawn to shorten his walk home, or standing on your lawn chatting to friends across the street. Is it illegal? Technically, yes. Is it punishable by years in jail, a heavy fine, and probation? No, especially not on the first offence.

    If you have a yard (wifi) and care about such things, you can post the land to warn people you don't want them there. (Disable SSID broadcasts.) If you really care, you can erect a fence to keep people out. (Enable WEP.) And if you really, really care, you can lock the fence and put barbed wire on it (WPK2 and MAC filtering with shared key). But to do nothing and then not expect an occasional person to wander through is just dumb.

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

  20. identicon
    missunderstand, 18 Jan 2007 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Re:

    Unfortunately, none of your scenarios represent this case.

    This is a case where the door is kept open but there are signs (laws of the country) outside the door that say "no entry to any form of open/closed doors".

    If you still enter, is that not called stealing?

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

  21. identicon
    Sunny Islander, 18 Jan 2007 @ 7:08pm

    Re: At best this is trespass...

    I think it is the same as putting some cold hard cash on your doorstep... its within your estate but passers-by don't see it that way... its finders keepers rule out there... so if someone takes it, who's fault issit?

    I believe that sometimes, pple that arnt too tech savvy will stumble onto other's network, like me for instance, when i setup my wireless, i didnt know which network to many available unsecured networks around... but maybe in this case, the guy is NOT ignorant, he knew it was someone else's network and he did it because he wanted to.. so guilty as charged...

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

  22. identicon
    freedom, 18 Jan 2007 @ 9:49pm

    after reading it, the only thing i see is that the goverment is just trying to destroy the lives of the innocent. ruining the future of a young kid over a small matter like this is really undescrible. issuing a fine as well? why not? while destroying the lives of others, why not get some cash as well? as for the guy who reported the young kid, grow up... its only few pieces of value-less data... u dont like ppl using ur stuff, LOCK IT!!! summary, this country is rotten...

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

  23. identicon
    SG, 18 Jan 2007 @ 11:10pm

    I think the kid should turn around and sue the bugger for trepassing his home with the Wi-Fi signals.

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

  24. identicon
    kenneth, 18 Jan 2007 @ 11:33pm

    someone who lives in this rotten country

    we just had an election last year. just before the election, the government gave money to everyone above 21, "sharing" with us the country's wealth. After the election, prices of basically everything that is a necessity to us went up. I'm not worried about price increase, because i know 5 years later when voting day comes again, i'll be able to "share" the country's wealth again. guess it will be about less than 1% of what i spent during the long wait. but it is all worth it, because our government say it is to make our country more competitive. i just wonder about their pay package.

    i got a summon, appeal and got a "cut n paste" reply. well of course nobody feels good about it so i replied again, asking for a few answers. this time i put someone important in cc. guess what? no replies after that. Freedom, you say this country is rotten. Well it's not only rotten, live here and you'll know it's more than rotten.

    so basically what they say is what we MUST follow. if they say it's wrong then IT IS WRONG. if they say "mee siam mai hum" then you may just see people start selling mee siam with "hum". why? because we cannot say things like "there's no hum in mee siam".

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

  25. identicon
    wanni, 20 Jan 2007 @ 2:56am

    ^out of topic.

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

  26. identicon
    kenneth, 20 Jan 2007 @ 6:35am

    someone who lives in this rotten country

    not out of topic. what i'm trying to say is there's no point arguing if they want to say you're wrong. we're here feeling unjust for the kid, they're there shaking their legs looking at these post and laughing at us. because they know they can do anything they like. i do not remember them ever listening to our voice.

    they set up channels, forums etc saying they will listen. but all they ever do is just listen. our CTE is forever packed with vehicles, they build an ERP gantry to collect money from whoever uses it and said it'll be better. now if eel it got worse, almost 11pm and it's still slow traffic. so is the main purpose to lessen traffic? or isit this road is a potential revenue for them?

    well the kid got sued, it's the first case we ever had. so just count him unlucky. it's a case of killing one to warn all others.

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

  27. identicon
    incubus, 21 Jan 2007 @ 7:38pm

    this whole issue is outright ridiculous. it would be easy to comprehend if that kid had a milicious intent but he was merely engaging in activities other kids his age are doing. chatting and reading mails.

    fair enough that freeloading on a private wifi is illegal but to PRESS CHARGES against a harmless kid for doing do?????? i cannot accept this fact. that some moron, instead of letting off the kid with a stern warning, he had to go PRESS CHARGES against him! that was downright evil. doesn't that moron have a conscience? i sure hope that retribution will fall upon his own kid when they freeload of others network.

    Does that moron realise that he has scarred and ruined an innocent kid for life over something this trivial?

    yes that kid was wrong in tapping an unsecured network but seriously, ask yourself this, would u press charges on a kid who taps ur unsecured network for chatting???

    i dont understand how the government can be so heartless to hand down such a penalty for such a trivial case.if it was some MP/Minister's son doing it, i'm sure the other party, the moron, will get charged for having an unsecured network.

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

  28. identicon
    Mike, 25 Jan 2007 @ 5:15am

    Honestly speaking, I've never heard of such an issue.

    Ok, so what if it's illegal? This type of crime usually passes off as getting caught drinking below the legal age or littering.

    I mean, if the kid was taking someone else's WiFi just to access his e-mail and instant message, then what's the harm in that? As mentioned a hundred times over, he never meant any maliciousness.
    If I wasn't informed of his punishment, I would've just thought the goverment would slap him wit a small fine, a slap on the wrist and a first warning. This is what everybody would assume. But no, his punishment's been much much worse.

    How can the government even come close to slapping him with an 18 month ban, probably a heavy fine and a huge scarring for life?

    If anyone can answer me this, then please enlighten me. What is the government doing? Making an example out of a young boy for the "good of the nation"?

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

  29. identicon
    wjunwei, 14 Jul 2007 @ 11:29am

    I Dont agree that both cases are well-judged.

    In both cases, we see a misjudgement due to the lack of technical knowledge on wifi hardware.

    These 2 cases are highly debated. and if im the boy and rich enough (and provided im old enough to defend). The local court stands no chance.

    It is because the duty of care also lies with the person owning the property.

    Though there is no physical boundary to wifi. and there should be a lock to everyone's wifi. It should be taken as that the owner of the wifi had opted out for a lockup of his wifi and thus offered free loading of his internet

    So in this case, i would believe the judge is too emotional towards the boy's compulsive habit (gaming) than over the essense of the case, which is Free loading of un-protected wifi.

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

  30. identicon
    jacksprat, 26 Sep 2008 @ 11:05am

    Re: How about...

    so,,, if i leave the keys in my car., it'
    s ok for anyone to take it? or if i find a bag of money with your name on the bag, it's mine now! seems it is ok to steal if the victim is either a large corp, or unknown to you, or u have more than a 75% chance of not getting caught. These are the new commandments of the 21st century, superceding "thy shalt not steal". ok.. works for me..
    hope u don't get the karma of having your proprty taken from you, soon.

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

  31. identicon
    charlesheston, 26 Sep 2008 @ 11:09am

    Re: At best this is trespass...

    how3 about , I MINE IT! with a little placrd that reads .. it's my turf. u stay off, a? ---- don't u like these comaprisions? get real stealing is stealing.. new century - new stuff to steal and methods. get with the times. right is right! and doing bad things is bad.
    if that jurisdiction says "hang em high", then cowboy u better not steal anything. calf included , golden or not!

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

  32. identicon
    Nomulus, 30 Sep 2008 @ 9:25pm

    They don't let you chew gum for all of the problems they have with it.

    IGNORant people...

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

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