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Man Charged for Using Cafe's Free Wi-Fi

Man Charged for Using Cafe's Free Wi-Fi

And by charged I mean a $400 fine and get 40 hours of community service for stealing Wi-Fi. That's right folks, Sam Peterson II, who used a Michigan cafe's free wireless network to check his e-mail will be dishing out enough dough to buy 3/4 of an iPhone and weeks worth of community service for his offense. Apparently, the cafe where Peterson logged on is a popular WiFi spot and Peterson didn't realize not paying for access was such an offense. Here's more:

I knew that the Union Street had WiFi," he told 24 Hour News 8. "I just went down and checked my e-mail and didn't see a problem with that." But Peterson did it everyday, and from his car. He drove up, parked, and piggybacked onto the Union Street network.

Piggybacking, which means using someone else's WiFi without their permission, currently lies in a gray legal area in most states. A local police chief became suspicious of what Peterson was doing in his car every day and eventually talked to him and issued a warning. After thinking about it a bit the police chief did a little investigation and found that "unauthorized use of computer access" is in fact a crime in Michigan. Soon afterward, a warrant was issued for Peterson's arrest on a "five year felony, $10,000 fine."

According to the police, if Peterson would have gone into the cafe everyday he wouldn't have been charged. A fact that apparently even confused the coffee shop owner who said she didn't know it was really illegal, either. "If he would have come in (to the coffee shop) it would have been fine," the owner told reporters.

I don't know about you, but if I had a penny for every time I've logged on to a wireless signal that didn't belong to me, I'd have a healthy latte fund. What do you think of this case?

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