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Bob Dole
05-31-2007, 05:37 PM
At least in Michigan.

Michigan Man Fined for Using Coffee Shop's Wi-Fi Network

A Michigan man has been fined $400 and given 40 hours of community service for accessing an open wireless Internet connection outside a coffee shop.

Under a little known state law against computer hackers, Sam Peterson II, of Cedar Springs, Mich., faced a felony charge after cops found him on March 27 sitting in front of the Re-Union Street Café in Sparta, Mich., surfing the Web from his brand-new laptop.

Last week, Peterson chose to pay the fine instead as part of a jail-diversion program.

"I think a lot of people should be shocked, because quite honestly, I still don't understand it myself," Peterson told FOXNews.com "I do not understand how this is illegal."

His troubles began in March, a couple of weeks after he had bought his first laptop computer.

Peterson, a 39-year-old toolmaker, volunteer firefighter and secretary of a bagpipe band, wanted to use his 30-minute lunch hour to check e-mails for his bagpipe group.

He got on the Internet by tapping into the local coffee shop's wireless network, but instead of going inside the shop to use the free Wi-Fi offered to paying customers, he chose to remain in his car and piggyback off the network, which he said didn't require a password.

He used the system on his lunch breaks for more than a week, and then the police showed up.

"I was sitting there reading my e-mail and he came up and stuck his head inside my window and asked me who I was spying on," Peterson told FOXNews.com.

Someone from a nearby barbershop had called cops after seeing Peterson's car pull up every day and sit in front of the coffee shop without anybody getting out.

"I just curiously asked him, 'Where are you getting the Internet connection?', you know," Sparta Police Chief Andrew Milanowski said. "And he said, 'From the café.'"

Milanowski ruled out Peterson as a possible stalker of the attractive local hairdresser, but still felt that a law might have been broken.

"We came back and we looked up the laws and we figured if we found one and thought, 'Well, let's run it by the prosecutor's office and see what they want to do,'" Milanowski said.

A few weeks later Peterson said he received a letter from the Kent County prosecutor's office saying that he faced a felony charge of fraudulent access to computer networks and that a request had been made for an arrest warrant.

The law, introduced in 1979 to protect Internet and private-network users from hackers, and amended in 2000 to include wireless systems, makes piggybacking off of Wi-Fi networks, even those without a password, illegal.

"It wasn't anything we were looking for, and it wasn't anything that we frankly particularly wanted to get involved in, but it basically fell in our lap and it was a little hard to just look the other way when somebody handed it to us," said Lynn Hopkins, assistant prosecuting attorney for Kent County.

Under the statute, individuals who log on to a Wi-Fi network with the owner's permission, or who see a pop-up screen that says it's a public network, can assume they're authorized to use the network, Hopkins said.

If they don't, they could be subject to prosecution.

Peterson was given two choices: He could try to fight the felony charge and face a sentence of up to 5 years in jail or a $10,000 fine; or he could enroll in the diversion program, which would require paying a $400 fine, doing 40 hours of community service and staying on probation for six months.

After consulting two lawyers — both of whom were until then unaware of the law — Peterson decided last week to take the diversion program.

If he fails to complete it, the arrest warrant will be issued and felony charges will be filed, Hopkins said.

"A lot of people tell me I should fight this, but they're not the ones looking at the felony charges on their record if it happens to go bad," Peterson said.

The case has surprised locals, including the owner of the barbershop that initially called police, as well as Donna May, owner of the coffee shop.

"He could have just come in the cafe, even if he didn't have any money, I would let him get on it," May said.

May said that the wireless connection is free for customers to her cafe.

The barbershop owner defended his decision to call police.

"I felt bad about it, but we've had problems in the past," said the man, who declined to give his name. "I'd rather be safe than sorry."

For Peterson, who's never had a criminal record, the experience has been an eye-opening one.

"All over the TV, all the commercials and whatnot you see, they're all trying to get you to buy all these laptops and things that are wireless," he said. "They're trying to get you to buy this wireless stuff because you can go anywhere and still be connected.

"Well, they don't happen to tell you that it's illegal," he continued. "And I guess obviously you're just supposed to know that."

It's up to the consumer to figure that out, said Hopkins, the prosecuting attorney.

"When you buy a Wi-Fi equipped device, it's your responsibility to find out what you can and can't legally do with that device, just as it would be if you were buying a radar detector or any other piece of electronics," she said.

But don't look for a flurry of prosecutions anytime soon.

"We're not going to be running stings to go out looking for people who do this," Hopkins said. "But people should be aware that if we come across them, and it is a violation of the statute, then we will enforce the statute."

Source (http://www.foxnews.com/printer_friendly_story/0,3566,276720,00.html)

jidar
05-31-2007, 05:50 PM
Everytime I go to a city I always park outside of mcdonalds when I need to use google maps or something.

headsnap
05-31-2007, 05:52 PM
Everytime I go to a city I always park outside of mcdonalds when I need to use google maps or something.
most McDonalds charge... Panera Bread ROCKS!!!

Thig Lyfe
05-31-2007, 05:53 PM
Peterson, a 39-year-old toolmaker, volunteer firefighter and secretary of a bagpipe band

Sounds like a common criminal.

Bob Dole
05-31-2007, 05:55 PM
Personally, Bob Dole doesn't consider that prosecution within the spirit of the law, and the business owner is being a jackass.

It's not like he was prohibiting a paying customer from using the service and the business wasn't incurring any additional cost.

headsnap
05-31-2007, 05:57 PM
"Well, they don't happen to tell you that it's illegal," he continued. "And I guess obviously you're just supposed to know that."

...but the Police had to hunt down the law and have a Prosecutor interpret it to fit the case. :shake:

the Talking Can
05-31-2007, 05:58 PM
everyone in town should boycott that business....put some ****ing security on it if you're such an ass

Kraus
05-31-2007, 05:59 PM
The store owner should have had some sort of security measure to stop people from using the wifi network. Give a password out to the paying customers or something like that.

Fruit Ninja
05-31-2007, 06:00 PM
Thats pretty stupid. I let my neighbor take my bandwidth for her laptop, but all she does is surf the net. I found a few people snagging my connection, i just put a password on it for her.

to pay a fine or go to jail for that? STUPID

Skip Towne
05-31-2007, 06:00 PM
Walking on the floors will be illegal soon.

the Talking Can
05-31-2007, 06:01 PM
and why did they actually prosecute it?

what a crop of assholes

headsnap
05-31-2007, 06:01 PM
everyone in town should boycott that business....put some ****ing security on it if you're such an ass
Did you even read the article?

or do you mean the Barbershop?

the Talking Can
05-31-2007, 06:03 PM
Did you even read the article?

or do you mean the Barbershop?

no I didn't, seems the owner didn't care...I assumed she had ask them to prosecute it for it be prosecuted

Hydrae
05-31-2007, 06:04 PM
Guys, this was not the cafe owners doing! She didn't press charges. Heck this is a case where the cops had to go looking to find something to charge him with. Now that is sad. :shake:

DaFace
05-31-2007, 06:06 PM
everyone in town should boycott that business....put some ****ing security on it if you're such an ass

Unless I'm reading this wrong, the store owner had nothing to do with it. The police caught him and the prosecutor decide to charge him.

the Talking Can
05-31-2007, 06:07 PM
Unless I'm reading this wrong, the store owner had nothing to do with it. The police caught him and the prosecutor decide to charge him.

repost

Count Zarth
05-31-2007, 06:07 PM
How did the police even catch him?

This doesn't bode well for future wardriving activities in Springfield.

Skip Towne
05-31-2007, 06:09 PM
How did the police even catch him?

This doesn't bode well for future wardriving activities in Springfield.
You should be in jail. I'm turning you in to the Big Cabin PD.

Bob Dole
05-31-2007, 06:17 PM
Unless I'm reading this wrong, the store owner had nothing to do with it. The police caught him and the prosecutor decide to charge him.

It's kind of confusing. One would assume that had the cafe owner insisted that she didn't give a shit, they wouldn't have prosecuted.

Frazod
05-31-2007, 06:21 PM
Guys, this was not the cafe owners doing! She didn't press charges. Heck this is a case where the cops had to go looking to find something to charge him with. Now that is sad. :shake:

It's not sad so much as frightening. "This guy sucks - find a law we can accuse him of breaking." How long until they're just making them up?

Big smile.....

Bob Dole
05-31-2007, 06:29 PM
It's not sad so much as frightening. "This guy sucks - find a law we can accuse him of breaking." How long until they're just making them up?

Big smile.....

It wouldn't be a problem if everything belonged to all of us.

Frazod
05-31-2007, 06:36 PM
It wouldn't be a problem if everything belonged to all of us.

Da, comrade.

Phobia
05-31-2007, 06:45 PM
This is very disappointing. I'm almost disappointed enough to make a phone call or fire off an email to the retards.

Almost.

Phobia
05-31-2007, 06:46 PM
http://pview.findlaw.com/view/2537528_1

Discuss Thrower
05-31-2007, 07:05 PM
Milanowski ruled out Peterson as a possible stalker of the attractive local hairdresser, but still felt that a law might have been broken.

Somebody has an inflated opinion of themselves.

dtebbe
05-31-2007, 09:46 PM
WiFi mooching is fun. So fun, in fact, I just bought a new tool to do it with. As hokie as this thing looks, it really kicks ass:
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16833164012

Had it in Indy this weekend. THe hotel I was staying in wanted to charge $4.95 per day for WiFi. I ended up connecting to a hotel about 2 blocks away for free. Gotta love it! My laptop's internal adapter did not even see the network I connected to with the dish, and despite having only about 15% signal I still got a 2mbps connection.

DT

FWIW, if a cop ever asks you anything, just reply with "If it was up your ass you'd know". Works for me every time.

Bugeater
05-31-2007, 09:54 PM
It's kind of confusing. One would assume that had the cafe owner insisted that she didn't give a shit, they wouldn't have prosecuted.
Sometimes laws are enforced for the sole purpose of generating revenue.

listopencil
05-31-2007, 10:06 PM
Too bad the guy wasn't savvy enough to tell the cop that he was connecting via bluetooth through his cell phone:

"All over the TV, all the commercials and whatnot you see, they're all trying to get you to buy all these laptops and things that are wireless," he said. "They're trying to get you to buy this wireless stuff because you can go anywhere and still be connected.

"Well, they don't happen to tell you that it's illegal," he continued. "And I guess obviously you're just supposed to know that."



Making this a felony would have been BS. They let him pay a fine and do community service instead. Honestly, he was stealing service. To me what he was doing was the equivalent of stealing cable TV.

Fish
05-31-2007, 10:20 PM
http://img520.imageshack.us/img520/5918/wificy5.jpg

PastorMikH
06-01-2007, 12:57 AM
IMO, if it is an unsecured wifi it should be legal to surf - customer or not.

Ultra Peanut
06-01-2007, 01:06 AM
Too bad the guy wasn't savvy enough to tell the cop that he was connecting via bluetooth through his cell phone:

"All over the TV, all the commercials and whatnot you see, they're all trying to get you to buy all these laptops and things that are wireless," he said. "They're trying to get you to buy this wireless stuff because you can go anywhere and still be connected.

"Well, they don't happen to tell you that it's illegal," he continued. "And I guess obviously you're just supposed to know that."



Making this a felony would have been BS. They let him pay a fine and do community service instead. Honestly, he was stealing service. To me what he was doing was the equivalent of stealing cable TV.Less like stealing cable, and more like watching his neighbor's TV through a window.

If you don't want people to be able to see your TV, put the ****ing blinds down.

Phobia
06-01-2007, 01:10 AM
Less like stealing cable, and more like watching his neighbor's TV through a window.

If you don't want people to be able to see your TV, put the ****ing blinds down.
Perfect analogy. Welcome back. I've missed you.

Ultra Peanut
06-01-2007, 01:36 AM
I've been here... the whole... time...

elvomito
06-01-2007, 02:28 AM
sorta related... i just saw a little blurb on tv about a wireless router that can steal up to 6 different wireless connections at the same time... giving you a really fast connection. if i lived in an apartment or a more populated area, i'd be on that one quick

but yeah, **** cops. however, i remember previous stories of the bs law being used correctly... when someone was cought parked in front of a house accessing dirty shit on the net.

crazycoffey
06-01-2007, 09:12 AM
In my opinion, the spirit of this law is to catch someone using my wireless system to access my personal computer and stealing my stuff. The guy using it as it is indended (for the most part) isn't.

The DA/PA are the real asses in this and appearently own the cops, BS to say the least. I don't see how this carries any weight other than the news article that is already out. The Cafe has to sign off on him using thier wireless inappropriately for this to stick.

Now on a further note, if the guy was doing more than what was told in the story, say he had his pants down and was stroking it while the hairdresser was walking across the parking lot, and he said he was just on the internet. Or some other variable the cop can't hardly prove. Then the cops can prove a violation of the law this way, easier than they can the stalking, or whatever else COULD have been going on.....

That's a tool of Law Enforcement. Like the Mob stories where they are charged with Tax evasion. You don't have to agree with that, but it happens. Does this situation fit in that category? I have no freakin idea, I'm just sharing my opinion on it.