Thursday, May 31, 2007

Michigan Man Fined for Using Coffee Shop's Wi-Fi Network

"...His troubles began in March, a couple of weeks after he had bought his first laptop computer.

Peterson, a 39-year-old toolmaker, volunteer firefighter and secretary of a bagpipe band, wanted to use his 30-minute lunch hour to check e-mails for his bagpipe group.

He got on the Internet by tapping into the local coffee shop's wireless network, but instead of going inside the shop to use the free Wi-Fi offered to paying customers, he chose to remain in his car and piggyback off the network, which he said didn't require a password.

He used the system on his lunch breaks for more than a week, and then the police showed up.

"I was sitting there reading my e-mail and he came up and stuck his head inside my window and asked me who I was spying on," Peterson told

Someone from a nearby barbershop had called cops after seeing Peterson's car pull up every day and sit in front of the coffee shop without anybody getting out.

"I just curiously asked him, 'Where are you getting the Internet connection?', you know," Sparta Police Chief Andrew Milanowski said. "And he said, 'From the café.'"

Milanowski ruled out Peterson as a possible stalker of the attractive local hairdresser, but still felt that a law might have been broken.

"We came back and we looked up the laws and we figured if we found one and thought, 'Well, let's run it by the prosecutor's office and see what they want to do,'" Milanowski said."

That's the spirit of the law, Chief. Drag someone off the street because you "feel" that some esoteric law might be in the process of, gasp, being broken, then pester the DA's office to make sure someone goes to jail for something.

Doesn't matter if the law is a joke. Doesn't matter if no one was being harmed or even offended. Look at virtually ANY law abiding citizen hard enough and long enough, and kerplooey. They're certain to break SOME law.

That really isn't how it was intended to be in the land of the free and the home of the brave, Chief. And I'm quite sure that were it one of your own, there'd be no talk of calling the DA, now would there.

Job security. Law enforcement style. With enough laws on the books there's plenty of work for everybody.

No comments: