Thursday, March 23, 2006

Fined For Using Someone Else's WiFi

involves a guy in Illinois who was fined $250 for "theft of services" after a police officer spotted him sitting in a car, using the open WiFi of a non-profit agency

OK, wait a minute. He was on public property in a park? The article doesn't really explain what was involved here, or what the person was doing on the Wifi connection. It seems to me, the user would say, "I was in this public park, booted up my computer to see if there was public Internet access. It turns out I found one, and figured it was a service of the park, city, or other entity allowing public free access the Internet. Are you telling me this Wifi connection belongs to a private party, I didn't realize that. Allow me to get off the connection, and I will leave."

The Town of Windsor has a park called the Windsor Town Green. It has Wifi service supplied from the City. What makes it a crime to access public Internet access? The BIGGEST question here, is how am I supposed to determine what is a public Wifi hotspot, and what is private? As a user there is SO MUCH talk about the nation that there are all kinds of public hotspots where you can just drive up and get access. Am I supposed to know these .vs. the ones I am not supposed to get access to?

It seems to me the police are making a big deal of something which they HAVE NO right making a judgement on. If the non-profit agency in this case complained to the police about this intrusion, then I would assume the police would respond. Otherwise, how was the user supposed to know.

I still believe that unless an entity takes precautions, or otherwise puts access controls in place making the Wifi not accessible, then I should be able to walk up and use the service without any problems or fear I will get prosecuted.

We are going backwards here folks. We are making a crime out of something where no crime exists. Remember that ANY technology can be exploited for nefarious reasons. That does not make the very act of accessing that technology a crime. It also puts the whole industry of open wifi spots in jeapordy because people are going to shy away from using them.

Wow, there is a LOT more to say here people. Suffice it to say, this is WRONG.

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