Florida, the state known for not being able to keep pants on their spammers, has become what is believed to be the first state in the nation to prosecute someone for using someone else’s open wifi.
Mind you, there is no evidence that Benjamin Smith III did anything else illegal while accessing the Internet through Richard Dinon’s unsecured open wireless access point in a residential neighborhood of St. Petersburg, Florida. It appears that he is guilt of – only – using that open wifi to get out to the Internet. Which is “unauthorized access of a computer network”. Which is a third-degree felony in Florida.
Of course, we first reported this very incident back when it first happened, when Mr. Smith first was apprehended for wardriving outside the Florida veterinarian’s home. What’s news now is that Florida is actually going forward with the prosecution.
Now, we’re not saying that what Smith did was right. But it’s ironic that when so many spammers spew millions of pieces of spam a day in their own version of “unauthorized access of a computer network” in Florida, the one poor schmuck who gets nailed there is the schmuck who parked outside someone’s home and used their open wifi access point to – who knows what. Maybe to search Google to find the address for which he was looking, maybe to send an instant message to his girlfriend to let her know that he’d be late for dinner (he just didn’t realize at the time just how late he’d end up being!) Again, we don’t know what he was doing, but we do know that there are no allegations that he was doing anything otherwise illegal, other than the unauthorized access.
But our real point is this: how many of you have used someone’s open wifi access point without express permission? For goodness sake, sales of the Canary wifi finder, and similar products designed to find open wireless access, have never been better!
Perhaps more importantly, how many of you will use someone’s open wifi access point without their express permission now, after reading this?
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