Using open Wi-Fi spots now a 3rd degree felony…?

Images-99 Felony for weezing the Wi-Fi? In a way, Dinon was fortunate the man outside his home stuck around since it remains a challenge to catch people in the act. Smith, who police said admitted to using Dinon’s Wi-Fi, has been charged with unauthorized access to a computer network, a third-degree felony. A pretrial hearing is set for July 11. It remains unclear what Smith was using the Wi-Fi for, to surf, play online video games, send e-mail to his grandmother, or something more nefarious. Prosecutors declined to comment, and Smith could not be reached. [via] Link.

2 thoughts on “Using open Wi-Fi spots now a 3rd degree felony…?

  1. Fellow Make readers,

    I realize this article is the sort of sensationalist rehetoric that defines technology in America today. As usual, the engineers offer people a new enabling tool and society and dog all run around and attempt to club one another over the head with this new tool.

    However, you will recall a nasty event that came to pass back in 1993 when the FCC stopped approving radio devices that were capable of monitoring cellular telephone frequencies in an attempt to plug a technology weakness. This legislation attempt, like so many that have come after it to solve technology problems with law, has essentially curtailed engineers’ abilities in the pursuit of protecting the ignorance of the public (and perhaps protecting the government from the public.)

    It is not outside the realm of possibility that the use of WiFi as a public enabler will become significant encumbered as a result of this type of legal interpretation. Consequently, we should roll this type of discussion into our overall influence on laws pertaining to computer access. While we struggle to protect our servers from malicious activity, we should also take the time to ensure we’re not putting shackles on other goals.

    From a letter I sent to the Alex Leary, the journalist who posted the original article:

    Mr. Leary:

    I’m writing in regard to your article published July 4th regarding Wi-Fi.

    Can you keep an eye on the progress of this case? I would be
    interested to see whether Dinon is acquitted on the grounds that
    authorization is implied by virtue of the access point being
    configured as open or if he is found guilty.

    Authorization is difficult to assess as there are services that offer
    open Internet service, such as coffee shops looking to increase
    business, where the only determination of authorization is by the
    presence of signs on the wall. One can then, correctly, assume that
    all access points that are not protected by some form of encryption or
    password are offered freely by the owner.

    I myself offer an open access point to the neighborhood. I do assume
    a level of risk by doing so, but conversely I enable a level of public
    enjoyment around the block. ISPs such as Speakeasy.net endorse this.

    While this is a grey area of social consciousness, it is exactly the
    sort of dialog that would benefit the public good. Do we want to
    build networks that enable citizens or do we want to build jungles
    full of potential jail time?

    Who has the burden of determining whether that radio signal is
    intentionally or unintentionally shared?

    Sincerely,
    Bill Ward

  2. Apologies for the complete lack of formatting, previewing and proofing.

    …back to work…

    Bill

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