A Florida man was charged with stealing a neighbor’s wi-fi signal.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Police have arrested a man for using someone else’s wireless Internet network in one of the first criminal cases involving this fairly common practice.
Benjamin Smith III, 41, faces a pretrial hearing this month following his April arrest on charges of unauthorized access to a computer network, a third-degree felony.
Police say Smith admitted using the Wi-Fi signal from the home of Richard Dinon, who had noticed Smith sitting in an SUV outside Dinon’s house using a laptop computer.
I hope arrests like this don’t become common – I, for one, appreciate it when I’m out and find a free wi-fi signal. Connect, check mail, done. The owner of the wi-fi hasn’t lost anything except maybe a momentary slowdown if he’s using it at the same time.
And heck, many places just give the signal away. Panera Bread Company, Harvest Coffee among others. (But not Minute Maid Park, ptui.)
And if you don’t want somebody using your wi-fi signal, the fix is easy – put a password on it. Presto, problem solved.
If this man has a decent lawyer, they’ll argue it thought it was a neighborly thing to do, offering free wi-fi. It wasn’t stealing – the owner hasn’t lost anything.