Sunday, June 03, 2007

When free wifi isn't

I swear, I didn't think this was illegal. According to an article on Great Lakes IT Report:
Police in Sparta arrested and charged Sam Peterson for "piggybacking," or using the cafe's Internet service without authorization ... Peterson was arrested for violating a 1979 Michigan law, revised in 2000. He actually faced five years in prison and a $10,000 fine ...
If the guy had gotten out of his car, gone into the cafe and bought a latte, then all would be OK? The cafe owners themselves didn't know this wasn't legal. What if said owners didn't care who used their wifi where or when? (Reading the full article on the WOOD TV8 site, it doesn't appear they objected in this case.) I mean, sure, if they had a parking lot full of internet users who never came in to buy, they'd have cause to be dismayed. I even have to question this guy who apparently came every day, but seemingly never went in and bought even a small black coffee. Not exactly a good neighbor type, I'd say. But still ... should this this really be a matter of law?

Downtown last year as well as here in my own neighborhood, I was able to piggyback on any one of several open networks. In some places, open networks bleed one into another. And it's illegal to access these? When they're right there, freely available, and your computer is practically begging you to choose one and sign on?

I know my view is probably not popular on this, but I think access to the internet should be as open as the internet itself. And while I'm not advocating that a lot of businesses and unassuming neighbors foot the bill for my access entirely (I do subscribe to a service, make no mistake), it's an unavoidable fact that wifi is kinda like air. We breathe what's around us, freely and free. If someplace is providing free wifi to its customers and, unavoidably, those nearby, why should I not partake? I say good for them. And good for you and me, too.

6 Comments:

Blogger pairadocs said...

If you don't want someone on your wi-fi, secure it. If you don't secure it, I say it's fair game.

Free the Internet!

12:07 AM  
Blogger me said...

Amen to that!

10:37 AM  
Blogger olmon said...

I agree, I have wireless at my house and I know that there are people that 'piggyback' on it on a somewhat regular basis. It doesn't bother me unless they're using so much bandwidth that it slows my connection down. If it did bother me, I'd secure it or shield the signal.

3:49 PM  
Blogger OTRDriver said...

I totally agree, if you don't want someone on it or want to charge for the convenience of access then secure it. As far as I know all routers have this capability.

7:52 AM  
Blogger javier said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Atwatersedge said...

This is anarcho-tyranny. There's no reason to use the police for petty no-harm matters like this while actually harmful matters are being left unattended to. Ridiculous. Secure your network or quit whining.

5:54 PM  

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