Skip to comments.Another Incident Of Dumb Cops Arresting A Guy For Using An Open Wi-Fi Connection
Posted on 06/02/2007 1:03:33 PM PDT by Sleeping Beauty
A Michigan cop, who'd obviously been hit over the head with a billy club one time too many, levied criminal charges against a man who used an open, public Wi-Fi network outside the cafe that was running it.
The dastardly computer criminal, Sam Peterson II, of Cedar Springs, Mich., chose to pay a $400 fine, do 40 hours of community service, and stay on probation six months.
Peterson has no criminal record. He's a 39-year-old toolmaker, volunteer firefighter, and secretary of a bagpipe band.
Peterson had gotten in the habit of checking e-mail on his lunch break in front of the Re-Union Street Cafe in Sparta, Mich. "[I]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," according to the article from Fox News. He did it on lunch breaks for more than a week.
Now, here's where the craziness starts.
Someone in a nearby barbershop saw Peterson's car pull up every day and sit in front of the coffee shop without anybody getting out.
A sane person would have knocked on Peterson's window and said, "Dude, I noticed you come here and sit in your car every day? What's up with that?"
But of course we live in paranoid times.
So the dummy in the barbershop called the cops.
Sparta Police Chief Andrew Milanowski asked Peterson where he got the Internet connection, and Petsron said from the cafe.
Now, the story so far is shocking enough, but it gets even more shocking:
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.
Here's how that reads to me: They don't care about who's using Wi-Fi in Sparta, Mich. The police chief just didn't like the way Peterson parted his hair, and so he dug and dug and dug until he found something he could charge Peterson with.
Peterson copped a plea. If he'd fought it, he could have faced a sentence of up to five years in jail, and a $10,000 fine.
Sparta, Mich. residents, when you pay your tax bills, I want you to think about how this kind of nonsense is how your government is spending your money.
Laws like the Michigan law are pretty common, and they're just plain bad law.
A reasonable person encountering an open Wi-Fi connection will assume it's open until finding evidence otherwise. But most hacking laws assume the opposite -- you need to be told that you can use the Wi-Fi connection or else the law assumes you're a criminal.
In the real world, landowners are required to post their land as private property before accusing someone else of trespassing. The law correctly recognizes that you can't accuse people of crossing boundaries unless they're told where the boundaries. Laws governing Wi-Fi should be written similarly. If you want to keep trespassers off your network, you should password-protect it.
This is pretty much the behavior of many people on their lunch break.
If someone doesn't want to share their wi-fi they should put a password on it. Otherwise they are, in fact, sharing it. The law doesn't properly match the way this works.
Amnesty for all of the unprotected network users!
So if your outside standing under a street lamp reading the newspaper, can they charge your with theft of electricity?
The cops sure love to look through the excessive # of laws we have if they want to screw u. Seen it happen.
He did ask. More accurately, his computer did when it requested access. Since the access was granted, he was using it with the permission of the network and, by extension, its owner.
True indeed, but even showing a hint of belligerence is foolishly playing with fire.
First say "What can I do for you, officer?" or "Is something wrong?"
This guy should not have been using the connection in the first place, but definitely should have closed his browser and opened a game program when he saw a cop coming.
Not necessarily, if its a violation of state or federal law.
Have you ever sat outside a club or store and listened to the music they’re playing inside?
“Officer, that man is sitting outside and he’s LISTENING to our music, but he’s not BUYING anything. Arrest him.”
“In other news, several kids were taken to juvenile for water theft after running through a neighbors sprinker.”
Yes, and we’re all going to be arrested for enjoying the smells outside of bakeries and restaurants as well. Hopefully a sane judge will award the damaged parties a monetary penalty of the sound of loose change jingling.
Ah, I see you are a law enforcement officer.
That's a philosophy that would lock everyone up until they can prove there's no reason to.
“Far more likely is Peterson was actually stalking but they didn’t have enough proof to charge him with the actual deed.”
If I were a cop you shouldn’t have any reason to deny my a request to search your car or house.
I didn't say be belligerent. I just said don't tell them anything. You can do that very politely. "I'm just sitting here in my car deciding if I want a latte' or a capuccino, officer."
Yes, but I would NEVER ask a cop if I were under arrest or if I were being detained illegally. Diplomacy works best with cops because you never know when you are dealing with someone drunk on power. You always want to act as if you are on their side and respect their authority, even if the cop you are dealing with is a stupid jerk.
The solution to stupidity like this, is to reduce the offending law enforcement entities budget by 25% immediately.
As Reagan did, defund the b@#tards.
The list, for what it’s worth, sounds like an ACLU recommendation. They like to see officers baited into confrontations, because they take the philosophy that revenge is best served cold.
Best advice I’ve ever heard.
The only doofus I see in this story is the author.
The old "if you don't actually lose anything in the process, I can steal anything I want any time" criminal posture still doesn't do it for me.
The Bevis and Butthead mentality.
Is this Einstein writer aware that "freeloading" wireless criminals have stolen hundreds of thousands of accounts and identities?
Last I checked, it's illegal to rob banks even if the front doors are unlocked. Ditto for burglarizing homes or automobiles.
Blaming the victims is a non-starter.
The freeloading criminals stealing music for years are seriously attempting to make this type of crime "normal" and not a big deal.
An identity thief can in fact set up to mimic a Wi-Fi server and do man-in-the-middle attacks like this. But this wasn't happening here, or it would have been found by investigators upon getting the guy's laptop. Not to say it shouldn't be deemed a crime, but something like this is much more like petty shoplifting than it is like murder.