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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Ipaq HQ Forums - Watch Who's WiFi You Use -- It Could Be A Felony

Ipaq HQ Forums - Watch Who's WiFi You Use -- It Could Be A FelonyWatch Who's WiFi You Use -- It Could Be A Felony
Richard Dinon of St Petersburg, Florida noticed a guy sitting in an SUV outside his home using a laptop computer. Dinon figured-out that the guy in the SUV, Benjamin Smith, III, was using Dinon's his home's open and unprotected WiFi network -- an unauthorized use no less.

Rather than work it out between them -- like walking up to the door and asking permission or knocking on the SUV window and asking the guy to quit using the network, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was involved and Smith was arrested. He is facing third-degree felony charges of unauthorized access to a computer network.

Locating and using an open network is a fairly common practice. Sure, some people do so to do bad things, but the vast majority people who access someone else's WiFi network do so to get access to the Internet for relatively harmless reasons such as sending and receiving email, checking movie times or getting updated on the day's news.

It's unclear as to what Mr. Smith was doing with his unauthorized connection -- Florida Prosecutors have declined to comment and Smith hasn't said publicly. What is clear is that whether innocent or nefarious in nature, unauthorized use is against the law in many places.

Staying Out Of Jail With WiFi Access:

1. Ask permission -- getting it in writing is best.
2. No means no -- like in many other areas of life.
3. Yes today doesn't necessarily mean yes tomorrow -- always ask.
4. Look for posted signs advertising FREE WiFi access -- A sign is always a good sign.
5. Pave the way for others -- suggest a sign authorizing FREE open WiFi access to businesses and homes that open their access points to the public.
6. Stay away from Richard Dinon house in St Petersburg, Florida -- he's apparently not open to sharing his open and unprotected WiFi access point with others.
7. When in doubt, don't! -- Asking forgiveness isn't as good as asking permission when someone with handcuffs and a badge is reading you your rights.
8. Pay to play -- just pay for a hotspot subscription and get it over with.
9. Look before you go -- research FREE & legal access points before you hit the road (or with Google Mobile while on the road.) An ounce of prevention, yada, yada, yada...

If you frequently piggy-back on other people's open WiFi access points -- go and sin no more -- or risk fines, fees and felony charges that will FAR outweigh a good T-Mobile Hotspot subscription fee.

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