A landmark case in the quagmire

This past week a man was arrested in Florida for “mooching” internet access outside a home. None of the reports specify if the Access Point (AP) was secured, protected, or encrypted. The St. Peterson Times story states, ” Police say Benjamin Smith III, 41, used his Acer brand laptop to hack into Dinon’s wireless Internet network.” Right – Anytime da fuzz uses the word hack you can bet they haven’t a clue of what they are talking about.

Do go read this story. Mr. Benjamin Smith stuck around this home entirely too long, he should have just moved on down the street to the next open AP. Which leads me to think he had not hacked the AP, if he had he would have fled after the first conact witht he homeowner knowing he had committed a crime according to the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He didn’t know (in fact none of us do) if he was committing a crime sitting there “borrowing” the internet.

So, here we have a landmark case that will set precedence for wireless internet communication, boundaries, and ownership. The ramifications are far-reaching and frightening. So we leave such prudent matters to Judges from the state that brought hanging chads into our lexicon, and allowed Terri Schiavo to die. Comforting thought.

However, I’m not sure that I’ve made a concrete decision on whether I think it should be against
the law to use someone’s unsecured wireless AP for your own internet access. (Indecision is rare, trust me.)

Part of me thinks “How can we make it a illegal to pick up a signal that is being broadcast
into a public area”. If you don’t crack it (i.e. break encryption, spoof MAC addys, etc…) and don’t go snooping into their computers. Where is the crime? If you don’t want people using it, SECURE IT, then if they crack it they have broken the law.

However, I don’t like the idea of you coming and plugging your cable into one
of my ports on my network and testing if you can access the internet, and other than the difference of premises aren’t they the same thing? And if you did plug in, would it be illegal?

No, they probably aren’t the same thing, it just seems more intrusive to physically come into my building and plug in your cable.

Judgement – Let’s not make it illegal.

If you want it private, secure it. If not, share and be happy. To me an open AP is an invitation.
Trust the government and its regulations to foul up this issue further.
If you close your eyes and listen closely you can hear the leftist mantra whispered…. Trust the Government, we know what’s best for you.

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