Skip to comments.Surfer's Web tangle unwinds a bit
Posted on 03/11/2007 12:27:41 PM PDT by conservative in nyc
Brian Tanner, the Web surfer whose computer police seized after chasing him twice from the Palmer Public Library parking lot, has his laptop back.
Tanner, 21, said Palmer police called March 3 saying he could pick the machine up "maybe Tuesday" after police checked it for child pornography. He said that he and police evidence custodian Jonathan Owen negotiated, and Owen scanned the laptop and returned it March 3.
Tanner said Thursday he has found another network outside a downtown Palmer bank that he won't identify that he taps into at night to play online games. Once he moves out of his parents' house he will set up his own connection, he said.
Police initially seized the laptop under rules allowing them to impound property when they believe a crime has occurred, Remaley said. The same rule allows police to impound cars while waiting on a warrant to search for drugs or other contraband, he said.
After many phone calls with library officials, Remaley finally decided theft of services could not have occurred and a search was unnecessary.
"I think I finally understand from the library that they don't charge for it. They don't have a time limit," Remaley said. "That means there's no theft."
Searching the computer for evidence of another crime would have been unlawful, Remaley said.
"First of all you lose your case and second of all you lose your credibility with prosecutors and the courts," he said.
Tanner's case, he said, is not yet over. He could be charged with trespassing and criminal mischief, the latter under statutes that forbid accessing a computer network without permission.
In both cases, it's clear, Remaley said, that Tanner knew he was doing something he wasn't supposed to.
(Excerpt) Read more at adn.com ...
This is a follow-up of the articles from a few weeks ago about the Palmer, Alaska man whose laptop was seized when he was found surfing the Internet in his car outside the Palmer public library. The Palmer library kept their unsecured wireless router on after library hours. He was warned and chased away by the police one day, and had his computer confiscated when he came back the next day.
This is going on all over the place.
Which, picking up Internet access, or being arrested for it?
Picking it up. ;)
I'm getting suspicious about my neighbors. Our houses are less than 15' apart.
Is your signal encrypted?
I'm not sure. I'll have to ask my son how he set it up.
Translation: If this guy has caused any other trouble, they might just "find" child pornography on his computer to force him into a plea bargain.
The Stalinists have finally found their magic bullet to eradicate all civil rights.
So they grabbed his computer, searched it for child porn and returned it. What would have happened if they found ANY kind of porn, private emails that were never planned for public release, unregistered software, maybe some Microsoft software not registered, and so on. Would he be prosecuted and his laptop confiscated?
After an illegal search?
When you log onto a wireless network, your computer asks the wireless access point (WAP) for permission with a SYN request. Unless the WAP responds with an ACK granting you permission, you can't make the connection. He had persmission by virtue of having the connection. The WAP granted him permission.
This is a perfect time to say: "Are you logged on?"
I just took another chocolate chip muffin from the kitchen counter and I knew it was wrong on some level. I don't anticipate the police endeavoring to find a crime in it.
You said -- "This is a follow-up of the articles from a few weeks ago about the Palmer, Alaska man whose laptop was seized when he was found surfing the Internet in his car outside the Palmer public library. The Palmer library kept their unsecured wireless router on after library hours. He was warned and chased away by the police one day, and had his computer confiscated when he came back the next day."
Well, I pretty regularly surf the Internet at a small town in Oklahoma (where some of my relatives are, about 2,500 people), at their town library, too. Now, the thing is, the library is straight across the street from the police station. I sit out there in the car, sometimes late at night, checking on things and doing e-mail, and the police come and do and they never say anything.
Besides, it's practically impossible for them to know if you're surfing the Internet on someone else's connection (like the public library), because you can be doing other things on your computer and just sitting there in your car.
In fact, I do that, too. I have a GPS and I can be checking the maps and my location, too. Even having a web browser window open doesn't mean anything, because you can have local web files, which I do, too.
There's really only one way that someone can say that you're doing that, and that would be if you *say so* yourself. Simply don't say so -- that's all. And especially since it seems to be a somewhat "murky area" of the law, why say so and just put yourself in the middle of hassles.
So, anyway, I haven't ever been asked, but I know what I will say. I'm either checking my maps, my route or doing offline e-mail for when I get a connection later on down the road, or I'm checking for a phone number and/or an address. I keep all that stuff on my laptop, so it would be *literally* impossible for anyone to say any different than what I say.
If the police ever did ask me why I was *there* at that spot, checking something -- I would simply say that it seemed like the safest place to park (right across from the police station) for checking something on my computer. No big deal!
And, in that town, although I have accounts for WiFi (at two of the biggest WiFi accounts in the U.S.) -- there are no accounts available. I could cruise down some neighborhood streets and snag a connection real quick. I have done that when I'm quickly checking e-mail or sending a quick e-mail on the road. I'll cruise down the road, see a connection, stop, send the e-mail and be off again in less than a couple of minutes.
But, late at night, sitting on the neighborhood streets for very long, in your car, tends to bring the police, so I don't do that. I can do it for about five minutes or less, because I can be checking for directions and that's reasonable. So, I think a lot of this kind of stuff that goes on (that you read about in the news) is simply people pushing it a bit too far and being totally out of place for what they're doing. If you're quick and out of there, no one will ever have time to ask you a single thing. They never have in all the years that I've been doing it. You would be amazed at how many Internet connections there are out there.
AND -- just for the information of some people who might say something about me snagging an Internet connection from a home, I intentionally leave my Wireless connection *open* just as a courtesy for some people who may want a connection. I monitor it to see if anyone is "camping out" long term, but hardly anyone connects, actually. My wireless is one block from a main thoroughfare, although the house is in a neighborhood. I've just boosted the signal to a 1/2 mile range from the house with a booster amp and antennae. So, I'll see if it makes any difference on the connections I get.
Along certain routes that I take on the highway, I've got certain stopping spots where I get connections. Some of them are with the WiFi services that I have, others are with the free ones that are listed on a national database (the biggest database they've got out there on that info), and then other spots are the businesses and/or homes that have an open connection.
It's a very interesting thing -- to cruise around with your laptop and see all the connections out there...
You said -- "I'm getting suspicious about my neighbors. Our houses are less than 15' apart."
Check your log on the Wireless base station and see the connections that are made. You'll know your connections and whatever is not yours is theirs or someone else coming by, down the street.
You asked (of the other poster) -- "Is your signal encrypted?"
Why bother? I mean, I give my signal out for others to get on once in a while. If I come across anyone who I think is camping out, then i'll boot them off the line (if it's all the time). But for someone who wants to come on once in a while, I don't mind. And, I've got firewalls on individual machines, so the computers themselves are okay.
Sorry, it's my policy not to go after asinine bait attempts.
You said -- "When you log onto a wireless network, your computer asks the wireless access point (WAP) for permission with a SYN request. Unless the WAP responds with an ACK granting you permission, you can't make the connection. He had persmission by virtue of having the connection. The WAP granted him permission."
Yep, I've got my wireless at home open on purpose, just to give some people passing by a connection if they want it. And many times, if I'm driving around the city, I'll check the my database for a free (and "listed") connection for a WiFi access point. They're all over the place, anyway, in any city of any size.
Where you run into problems getting free WiFi (from businesses who supply it to the public) and paid WiFi access is when you get out of the big city. Then it becomes problematic. And so, that's where I will go to all sorts of other wireless access points (anyone who has an open connection) and do some quick e-mail and/or surfing on the net (usually for information for finding a local place that I'm looking for). It's all pretty quick -- in and out -- kind of stuff.
We all ought to be "good neighbors" and give passerbys access when they need it for various reasons.
You said -- "Sorry, it's my policy not to go after asinine bait attempts."
The point to "why bother" is that many leave it open intentionally and figure that they will allow others to connect if they want to. It's something that they have no problem with. I don't either. If someone has concerns for their computers, they can protect them, the same way as if it's on the Internet without a wireless. Just get a firewall on their own computer or put one on another router after the wireless. There are all sorts of ways to do it. It's no big deal and people don't have to get all worried about it.
You could always change to wired instead of wireless if it would make you feel more comfortable