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|Wi-Fi user fined for battening off hotspot |
one year in jail is the maximum penalty
he was fined, but let's face it, his life will never be the same. With an arrest and conviction record his options are very limited in this country.
“We just want to get the word out that it is a crime. We are prosecuting it, and people need to take precautions,” Assistant State’s Attorney Tom Wartowski said.
Kauchak was arrested in January in Loves Park when local authorities learned he was accessing the Internet through a nonprofit agency’s computer. "
While I agree that it's harder to call accessing an open network a crime, the circumstances may make a difference. Did the individual cruise the neighborhood looking for an open access point? Were there "legitimate" open access points in the area (restaurants, hotels, etc.) so that an accidental connection to an open (but supposedly private) access point is easily explainable? Did the individual have access to his own legal service and connect accidentally, or is it quite apparent that he knew he was accessing someone else's service?
In this case, it sounds like the individual knew full well what he was doing, and actually drove to a specific location and parked in order to access the connection. Particularly if this was a residential area, there was clear intent to access a private network.
Often, it's the details that make a case go one way or the other. And while it would have been interesting for the person to contest this ruling, paying a small fine was no doubt much less expensive than hiring an attorney. $250 might buy an hour or two of time from a cheap lawyer, and not even an hour at a top firm.
A crime usually involves "intent".
I think the whole things rather silly, if teh person that paid for the service couldnt then use it, then yes they, teh unauthorised user, was stealing.
However if the other person (the buyer) can use the system as well, whats the big deal? I cant see how he/they lost anything?
<some routers do lose their configs during a power outage especially the common linksys routers that is used in practically all home networks. If you look at the instructions, keeping power off for more than 60 seconds results in complete memory loss.>
That's simply not true. Perhaps there are a few oddballs that lose their configs during a power outage, but that's not the norm, and Linksys certainly isn't one of them.
<If I leave my Porsche Convertible open topped on your street does this give you a right to take it? I think not! Leaving my WiFi less than 100% protected applies in the same manner, it was never yours to use!>
Again, not an accurate analogy. At no time is it ever okay to jump into a stranger's Porsche, top down or not, and take it. So there's no confusion there. But when a wide-open unencrypted network is encountered, what is the owner's intent? Because locking a network down and showing your intent to keep others out is very simple and is explained clearly in the directions, it can only be assumed that an open network was intended for public use, as is often the case.
Is it legal to view a copyrighted mural on the side of a building? To smell the roses reaching across your path from someone's garden as you pass?
|it can only be assumed that an open network was intended for public use |
I assume that you assume that the guy now under the supervision of the court assumed that it was not intended for public use.
|Is it legal to view a copyrighted mural on the side of a building? To smell the roses reaching across your path from someone's garden as you pass? |
Assuming there is no law against it I assume it is legal. :)
The big question is why did he access the hotspot? I've heard of people war driving and using hotspots they find as proxies to send out spam. I don't know if this guy was doing something like that, but it does seem suspicious that he had parked outside this office in the middle of the night just to surf.
If I cut into my neighbors electricity supply past the point of his meter I'm stealing from my neighbor because he has to pay for the electricity I stole.
If I cut into my neighbors electricity supply before the point of his meter I'm not stealing because he doesn't have to pay?
That is a very lame argument, IMHO!
Both ways you are stealing electricity, and someone is paying for your gain. Eventually it will be all of your neighbors because the Electricity company will increase the price to all, to maintain profits.
If I don't pay my taxes I assume those that believe this behavour is okay are happy campers? Sorry folks, all that happens is you eventually end up paying more to cover the share I chose not to pay for!
<I assume that you assume that the guy now under the supervision of the court assumed that it was not intended for public use.>
Otherwise he would not have folded so easily. Of course, as others here have said, that wasn't a good move on his part and sets a bad precedent.
<Both ways you are stealing electricity, and someone is paying for your gain. Eventually it will be all of your neighbors because the Electricity company will increase the price to all, to maintain profits.>
This is just as irrelevent as the convertible car argument. Now if people generally left electrical recepticles in front of their house intended for public use, then plugging in might not be such a bad idea.
Here's the key difference between your car/electricity argument, and what actually happened here:
How often is it okay to walk up to a stranger's car and take it, or to break into someone's electricity service? Never.
How often is it okay to log into an open wifi network? Often. Many network operators encourage this.
The analogy to stealing electricity is inapt. If I tap into your water pipe or siphon off your electricity, I'm breaking into a sealed conduit, siphoning off and stealing from a measurable, metered and privately contained flow. You and/or your utility will have to pay for the lost power/water I drain off. To get at it, I must break in. If, on the other hand, a machine broadcasts an ambient signal which anyone is able to freely utilize from the public street level with no break-in necessary, I am neither invading nor diminishing your property.
Diminishing an ISP's property in the abstract, as abstract theft, doesn't count. If your utility has a leakage problem, it's their problem, and their responsibility to either devise a clever way to fix it, or if they can't, then they must accept it as coming with the territory when in the utility business. If ISPs desire to prevent others from using their utilities, it is their responsibility to find some technical means to secure those utilities. Networks can be password-encoded. If they are not encoded, then they have been left open. And unless ISPs start making it a contractual requirement that all their customers' wireless modems be secured, I would think (though I'm no lawyer) there's no one to prosecute for a breach of private contract terms, nor for theft or trespass.
I think some of the guidelines regarding warrantless vs. warranted searches have some parallels here. I can't open your door and search your home for example, without the vested authority to do so, without a warrant and probable cause, but the courts have ruled that it's entirely legal to rifle through your curbside trash.
[edited by: luckychucky at 5:56 pm (utc) on Mar. 27, 2006]
Analogies in this thread are increasing faster than the number of hamburgers sold on a McDonald's sign.
The better practice would be to find out what law(s)apply and follow the law.
The law is still very much a grey area, still being worked out. That's why they're litigating and prosecuting in such conflicting and illogical ways, different in every venue and with each new case.
The law is all about analogy to legal and historical precedent. That's its very essence.
>> The better practice would be to find out what law(s)apply and follow the law.
Here's the problem: How do you know the intent of the Wi-Fi owner? If you're near a University and they offer free Wi-Fi, presumably for students, are you guilty if you check your e-mail while passing by? How do you know if "Joe" is just a nice guy to offer free wifi to his neighbors, or just too lazy, or dumb, to password protect it?
Looks like unless you have the owner's permission you are violating the law. Maybe Linksys etc., have to offer an option that people can click on during setup to allow others to connect; this way there's no ambiguity.
Not so fast, there. I'm not so sure even that would stand up either. You may be able to use it without the owner's permission and still not be a lawbreaker. Take your example of a person checking his eMail in the vicinity of a college campus, for example.
|Looks like unless you have the owner's permission you are violating the law. |
My Southern California home town here advertises free WiFi on the local promenade, and has also declared a newly built park as one big free public WiFi zone. If that's allowed to exist, then in order for anyone to police a private WiFi zone, zones need to be publicly defined and demarcated in order to be enforceable. If, theoretically, I could in California pick up a WiFi signal coming out of Moscow, that's one big can of worms for anyone telling me I'm stealing from his protected (and therefore confiscated for his private use) public airspace - an airspace shared by a great many wireless transmitters as a public commons.
The burden falls on the ISP. If the ISP doesn't lock or encrypt and/or require their customers to lock or encrypt, tough luck for them. I can't access XM radio without hacking. But if my standard off-the-shelf radio could receive XM transmissions, I would have every right under law to listen to them.
I wonder why we haven't heard form the ISP's on this. Paying for internet access does not give you the right to re-broadcast it for others to use. In fact, the terms of service that you sign when you subscribe specifically forbid this.
I know we all like the idea of free internet access but it costs money for the ISP's to provide this access, and without paying customers the whole economics falls apart.
I know exactly how it works for bars/restaurants that show sporting events. They have to pay a commercial licensing fee, and every network has representatives in every market in the US that work on commission to make sure they comply. The amount they are charged is based on the maximum occupancy of the viewing area. You would be quite appalled at how much your local bar is paying to have the Superbowl playing.
|The law is all about analogy to legal and historical precedent. That's its very essence. |
Assuming, arguendo, that yours is an accurate statement, shouldn't you first look at the plain language of the statute? I know the court will. Of course if you've been charged and want to challenge the legality of the statute, please do so and let the rest of us in on the outcome.
Or if you think that your particular fact situation should be controlled by a legal precedent, in the US of A, the trial judge determines legal issues. If you disagree with the trial judge's determination, you can petition for an interlocutory appeal, or proceed to trial and appeal the issue if found guilty.
No, the problem so far is that no one has bothered to look up the law(s).
You could do us all a great service, lawman, if you'd look up those statutes yourself and cite a few quotes here for our edification.
And I guess you're right: silly me, the law isn't all about analogy to legal and historical precedent. How could I have been so blind?
|No, the problem so far is that no one has bothered to look up the law(s). |
I haven't even been able to determine if the guy hacked in or not.
There is clearly more to this story than some poor innocent guy sitting in his car in the middle of the night using a WiFi signal left open for all to freely use getting busted by an over zealous cop and then quickly pleading guilty and paying a fine because he is certain he will get a year in jail at trial.
|You could do us all a great service, lawman, if you'd look up those statutes yourself and cite a few quotes here for our edification. |
When I was a public defender, I had a litigation team comprised of 2d and 3d year laws students. The 3d year students could try cases under our state's third year practice act. In preparing for trial week, a 3L said to me "You bend 'em over and I'll kick their ass." I responded "Bending them over is the hard part. If you want to kick their ass, you bend 'em over yourself."
Analogize that. :)
There's a saying :
There's no perfect analogy.
The problem is indeed that nobody -and most especially yourself, lawman- has bothered to look up the statutes cited. Unless you actually wish to be a hypocrite, it's a hollow complaint.
|The problem is indeed that nobody -and most especially yourself, lawman- has bothered to look up the statutes cited. |
Once I'm retained on a case, I check out the law. I do this on a daily basis. However, insofar as this topic is concerned, I have no interest in the statutes themselves or statutory construction. I was simply pointing out that the plethora of analogies is virtually meaningless without knowing what the particular statute(s) say. Now, if we could agree on a fee I'll check it out for you.
|Unless you actually wish to be a hypocrite, it's a hollow complaint. |
I'm not sure where the hypocrisy fits in. Nevertheless, what you call a complaint, I call an observation. Furthermore, you'll never strengthen a position by calling people names.
Now, if we can get back on topic . . .
<Paying for internet access does not give you the right to re-broadcast it for others to use. In fact, the terms of service that you sign when you subscribe specifically forbid this.>
That depends on your ISP. Mine has encourages it, so I use them to setup free hotspots all over the place.
<...the problem so far is that no one has bothered to look up the law(s).>
Are you saying that a law exists specifically about using open wireless networks, or are you saying that some other law exists that could parallel this in an abstract sort of way (i.e. "be analagous to")? I don't imagine the former is true.
The idea is to find out just which statute(s) this guy was actually charged with violating. Stands to reason he had to be charged with something. That's the point lawman was trying to make (albeit in the role of backseat driver).
|Are you saying that a law exists specifically about using open wireless networks, or are you saying that some other law exists that could parallel this in an abstract sort of way (i.e. "be analagous to")? I don't imagine the former is true. |
As per the first post in the thread, someone was convicted of violating some law that pertained to unauthorized use of another's WiFi. There is a good starting point for researching the law. As I am not inclined to do so I encourage anyone with sufficient interest to check it out and report back. Or, like I said in msg #52, I could be persuaded to research it for you. Or feel free to continue with analogies about the law without understanding what law was actually violated.
Combined with my previous posts, if that doesn't provide a full glimpse into my mind on the subject, I apologize for being incapable of conveying my thoughts.
The original linked news source is the Rockford Register Star of Rockford, Illinios.
A quick search for illinios computer law provided the following from the Southern Illinios University Edwardsville Library Services: [library.siue.edu ]
The Illinois "Computer Crime Prevention Law" (Illinois Compiled Statutes, 1996, Chapter 720, Article 5/16D) makes unauthorized computer use a criminal offense. There are three offense categories defined by the Law.
1. Computer Tampering
An individual may be prosecuted for this offense when access is gained to a computer, a program, or data, without permission from the owner. Unauthorized access, by itself, is a misdemeanor. Obtaining data or services is a misdemeanor for the first offense and a felony for subsequent offenses. Altering, damaging, destroying, or removing a computer, a program, or data, always is a felony. (These latter offenses include the use or attempted use of what commonly is referred to as a "computer virus.")
2. Aggravated Computer Tampering
3. Computer Fraud
I will bow to lawman's expertise in law (esp. US law) but this reads like the policeman saw someone in a vehicle using a laptop and asked him what he was doing. The bright wifi thief, who like George Washington,'could not tell a lie' was charged and subsequently convicted of a misdemeanor.
All this foo-fuss because using a SE is a strange and alien form of research...
|I will bow to lawman's expertise in law |
You're not bowing to much since I am a self-confessed ignoramus regarding this area of the law.
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