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Florida Man Charged For Stealing Wi-Fi 380

baldass_newbie writes "The Saint Pete Times has a story about Benjamin Smith III who was arrested for stealing a wi-fi signal in Saint Petersburg, Florida, where apparently wardriving is considered a third degree felony." From the article: "...xperts believe there are scores of incidents occurring undetected, sometimes to frightening effect. People have used the cloak of wireless to traffic in child pornography, steal credit card information and send death threats, according to authorities. For as worrisome as it seems, wireless mooching is easily preventable by turning on encryption or requiring passwords. The problem, security experts say, is many people do not take the time or are unsure how to secure their wireless access from intruders. Dinon knew what to do. 'But I never did it because my neighbors are older.'"
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Florida Man Charged For Stealing Wi-Fi

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  • It's dupe-a-licious! (Score:5, Informative)

    by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:18AM (#13003104)
    Yet another dupe...previous story can be found here. [slashdot.org]

    Zonk fails it again...
    • by geeber ( 520231 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:23AM (#13003189)
      There should be a new poll:

      Slashdot editor responsible for the most dupes:

      (a) Commander Taco
      (b) Zonk
      (c) write-in candidate
      (d) CowboyNeal
    • What's worse, both stories say that he got in trouble for stealing Wi-Fi. At least this summary got it halfway right by saying wardriving is a third-degree thingy.

      Parking outside people's houses for hours on end while secretively using a laptop isn't exactly the kind of thing you can do without repercussions.
    • Note to Slashdot editors: Slashdot.org is NOT the site to check when looking for new stories.
  • by Arthur B. ( 806360 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:18AM (#13003108)
    a third degree felony...
  • by Willeh ( 768540 ) * <rwillem@xs4all.nl> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:18AM (#13003113)
    Dupe dupe dupe, even linking to THE SAME FUCKING ARTICLE! Oh wow, it adds some stuff about wardriving and some FUD about *GASP* CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, man the battlestations!

    http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/07/ 06/0217252&tid=193&tid=17 [slashdot.org]

    Wake up and smell the noise, admins. I know it's just me screaming in the sea of other people yelling about dupes, but isn't it time to implement some kind of link checker system?

    • by LinuxHam ( 52232 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:23AM (#13003184) Homepage Journal
      isn't it time to implement some kind of link checker system?

      I've been trying to come up with a way to perfectly word my upcoming GreaseMonkeyUserScriptRequest. I want a system where I can donate my mod points to a mod-up or nuke mechanism, and I think a lot more people here would like to see a NoDupes script.
      • Are you suggesting ability to apply mod points to the original slashdot story? Maybe "Dupe" could be one of the options with a place to link to the original story. Maybe use all 5 mod points for a mega mod or something like that.

        This is certainly offtopic, so Slashdot Editors should open up a discussion on feature requests, most would probably be pretty wild and self defeating, but there could be a few gems.
    • > but isn't it time to implement some kind of link checker system?

      If the editors gave enough of a shit to implement a link checker, they'd also read their own site, making such a thing unnecessary.
  • Deja Vu (Score:2, Insightful)

    by suso ( 153703 ) *
    Its not WiFi, its DeJa Vu. All over again [slashdot.org].

    Florida seems to be the snitching capital of the world. Wasn't it there that so
    meone told police that 3 doctors where plotting something evil when they overheard them at a resturaunt.
  • again? (Score:5, Funny)

    by pilot1 ( 610480 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:19AM (#13003118)
    this poor bejamin guy is going to be in jail for quite a long time with all the arrests he's been getting lately.
  • Christ driving around to see what doors stupid ppl have left open should not be a crime. If I drive around my neighborhood and look at how many dumb ppl have left their front door wide open should I be arrested. Breaking in is one thing but just looking is another.
    • by jusdisgi ( 617863 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:29AM (#13003274)

      Christ driving around to see what doors stupid ppl have left open should not be a crime. If I drive around my neighborhood and look at how many dumb ppl have left their front door wide open should I be arrested. Breaking in is one thing but just looking is another.

      That's a horrible analogy. Because it is and should be illegal to walk into somebody's house without permission, even if the door is open.

      But that's not what an AP setup like this is like. It's not just "open" ...it's actively inviting people to use its access. It's broadcasting an SSID, and then answering DHCP requests by giving out leases. So, using an AP that was configured like the one in this case is more like driving around looking for signs that say "keg party down the street" then finding the house that says "keg party" on the door, then knocking, and having the door answered by somebody who says "come on in" and hands you a cup for the keg.

      This does not hold if the AP is not broadcasting its SSID and using DHCP. If you go sniff the network and setup a static address on it, you've probably done so without permission. But when the system advertises its existence and offers you an IP when you ask, you have just been authorized to use the network.

      • by Otter ( 3800 )
        First of all, this is nerd logic that's unlikely to hold up in court. If networks had to be actively configured to be publically available, you'd have a point, but failing to actively secure it is not (to normal people) comparable to your notion of advertising a keg party.

        Second, in this case, the homeowner confronted the l33ch twice, and the latter clearly realized that he wasn't welcome on the network.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          It's nerd logic, but it's still logic. Unsecured WLANs behave exactly like deliberately open hotspots. If implicit permission is not enough to connect to a computer system, then we better stop using the internet right now, because we're using other people's servers all the time and the only permission we have is that we can access them without authentication.
          • I _understand_ nerd logic (and your web server analogy and obliviousness to my point make for a perfect example thereof) but to normal people, a web server that had to be actively configured and made available and a access point that was not actively secured are not remotely comparable situations. At some level, even nerds grasp this, which is why the arrested individual probably doesn't hide from server admins the way he does from an irritated hotpsot owner.

            Nerds can take or ignore my advice, but a "jury o

            • I _understand_ nerd logic (and your web server analogy and obliviousness to my point make for a perfect example thereof)

              Look, I'm not oblivious to your point. You're just wrong. Both your assertion that juries can't or won't listen to expert testimony in a trial setting and your assertion that nerd logic somehow isn't correct in a discussion about networking are wrongheaded.

              The nerds built the Internet, and if the rest of the world wants to go and try to administer it while disregarding the logic of the

        • Well, Otter, I've got to say congratulations; you're the first person on the other side of this argument that I've seen make a reasonable point that might hold up. And I read the first /. discussion too.

          The point I'm congratulating is the confrontation argument. If the owner of the AP actually came out and told the leech to get off his network, then yes, I'd agree that the leech needs to leave or face these felony charges.

          That said, my reading of TFA does not suggest that this happened in this case. TFA s

          • Now, if you want to say it was obvious from Dinon's actions that Smith wasn't welcome, we get into muddy water.

            Indeed, one could say Smith's actions of attempting to conceal his leeching by closing his laptop when approached was indicative that he knew he shouldn't be doing that.

            Then again, it is reasonable to think he was just protecting his own privacy from someone else's snooping as someone at a public hotspot might want to access with his screen unseen by others.
          • The AC who has already replied to you says it about as well as I could: the nerd logic is the logic that matters when we're talking about networking policy.

            As stories here (including this one) demonstrate every day, nerd logic is _not_ the logic that matters for anything besides scoring points in arguing. (It's also just plain stupid, but that's another issue.)

        • Most open WAPs are open due to uninformed owners and I believe it should be the WAP manufacturers' job to ensure (to a reasonable extent) that users of their products have at least minimal knowledge of the technology they are about to use. If the homeowner is leaving is WAP open out of ignorance, disabling WiFi by default would already force the users to go through the setup/warning sheet at least once in their WiFi life before going live.

          A non-default SSID with broadcast turned off, WPA-AES-PSK and MAC wh
        • Having a WAP with no wep and broadcasting the SSID, is like leaving your door open and having a neon "Open" sign in the window. Connecting to an open WAP should not be illegal.

          There is a second issue here and is what is really the problem, is a creepy guy hanging out for hours in a residential neighborhood. The police will level every possible charge that they have possibility of sticking so the guy might be convicted of something. If the guy does not have child porn on his computer, he likely won't hav
      • I agree and my analogy was poor. I wasn't trying to say go in to the house I was simply saying seeing that a door is left wide open, but your kegger analogy is right on the money. One thing that really annoys me with the Florida law is that lets say you live in a neighborhood with 5 open APs broadcasing their SSID. And now lets say you have a wireless AP and you have left all the defaults on including naming it err linksys. Now if those other people with open APs have also left their defaults on then you co
        • Actually connections go both ways. So if your device is being connected with by some foreign AP you could claim they are trying to illegally intercept your transmissions.
      • To quote someone I've met.

        Analogies are like goldfish. Sometimes they don't shed much light on the discussion, just like goldfish.

        We have many thousands of years of shared experience with physical houses and probably some territorial instincts that go back further. It's been relatively easy to agree on laws about trespass on physical property. WiFi has some important differences from physical property.

        Even so we could borrow some ideas from the law of trespass and build a legal structure that will promot
      • office building (Score:3, Insightful)

        by garyrich ( 30652 )
        Yes, it's a bad analogy. A better one that I've been using for ~15 years is an office building. Doors in an office building are there to be opened. If you have a door to your private office that opens on a public hallway -- lock it or expect that people will walk in from time to time. Some kid walking the halls and twisting doorknobs is not trespassing, stealing, or anything else except maybe being a pain in the butt. Even if you put a little "private" sign on the door you should expect people to open i
    • I don't know if this has been said before, because I wasn't paying attention the first time it was posted. So here goes:

      Christ driving around to see what doors stupid ppl have left open should not be a crime.

      Arguably you are stealing service, and that *may be* a crime. However, it may only be a misdemenor considering that no attempt was made to secure the system. (Some people do intentionally offer service to war drivers and the like.)

      The more interesting question is how it jives with FCC regulations.
    • The stupid people are those selling doors that fling themselves wide open by default and yet look no different to the casual observer whether they're open or closed.
    • Christ driving around to see what doors stupid ppl have left open should not be a crime.

      I absolutely agree!

      But using "ppl" instead of "people"... twice in two sentences... that should be a crime. Preferably punished by being forced to talk only in abbreviations for, say, a month or two.

      And slashdot editors posting incessant dupes should be punished by having their tinfoil hats taken away. Sigh. If only.

      Someone should start up and maintain a slashdot-editor-dupe-posting hall of shame. Seriousl

    • And that's what seperates wardriving from theft of services, or tresspass, or whatever you want to call it -- crossing the line.

      I recommend wardriving [wifimaps.com], but I do not recommend using networks for which you have no authorization. I interviewed the FBI on this topic [seattlewireless.net], and also went over safe wardriving procedures.

      Of course, I could also go to jail for taking pictures of a hospital 3 blocks from my house, but that's another story that I haven't blogged about yet.
    • Just looking gets many a man in trouble all the time!
  • by scribblej ( 195445 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:20AM (#13003136)
    It's a dupe of the most commented on story of the week, proving once again that the editors don't even take a passing interest in the site.
    • ... and I don't think it's accidental.

      If the story was good once, odds are it'll get lots of attention a second time, some from people who didn't see it while it was on the front page the first time, and some from people looking to see if there's anything of interest in the new discussion. And some from people complaining about dups, of course. And some from people complaining about people complaining about dups. And some from people explaining why dups are probably not accidental. And some from styl

  • How many is this in less than 2 weeks for the zonk-meister? at least 6 i think.
  • Certainties on /. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by revscat ( 35618 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:24AM (#13003199) Journal
    A few things bring peace to my mind, because they are utterly predictable and can be counted on no matter what chaos the world is currently embroiled in.
    1. GNAA trolls
    2. "Netcraft confirms..."
    3. "In Soviet Russia..."
    4. "I didn't read the article, but have an opinion about it anyway."
    5. "But Clinton..."
    6. Dupes.
    I'm beyond caring.
  • This is just a simple case of, "He can do something we don't understand. And since we can't understand it, it must be immoral, so he must be a witch, and therefore, he must be burned at the stake"
    • Or perhaps it is a more typical case:

      The public understands very clearly what he was doing (unauthorized access of a home internet connection).
      While the Slashdot crowd thinks of arcane technical reasons why it isn't wrong.
  • "The Chevy Blazer was still there, the man furtively hunched over his computer." Well lets give this guy the stupid award for getting caught. Seems he wasn't so furtive after all? -----
    Since this is a duplicate article, I will just post a link on how to secure your wifi on the road.... http://www.wi-fiplanet.com/tutorials/article.php/3 106011 [wi-fiplanet.com]
  • "...xperts believe..."

    You couldn't even quote the whole word? Or is that the new spelling? Or are we talking about people that used to be perts?

  • by downward dog ( 634625 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:33AM (#13003328) Homepage

    People have used the cloak of wireless to traffic in child pornography, steal credit card information and send death threats, according to authorities.

    So shouldn't these people be charged for these crimes, and not for using a technology that makes these crimes possible? Why not:

    People have used the postal service to traffic in child pornography, steal credit card information and send death threats, according to authorities.

    People have used computers to traffic in child pornography, steal credit card information and send death threats, according to authorities.

    People have used telephones to traffic in child pornography, steal credit card information and send death threats, according to authorities.

    • i do hear the second one quite often and before phones were de-mystified to the regular joe i heard similar accusations of "the phone" being ain instrument of evil.

      This article does NOT have the tone that wireless networking is a bad thing. it has the tone of "people who use other people's wireless networks for anonymity can do bad things"
  • Florida passes increased legislation against men stealing wifi, caused by repeated sensationalistic stories on popular news sites such as slashdot.org. "My son has this site as our homepage on the home computer, and I kept noticing how Florida men like to steal wifi bandwidth, so being someone in a position to do something, I decided to do something!" - anonymous Florida politician.
  • by slapout ( 93640 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:37AM (#13003380)
    from the please-read-your-own-website dept.
    annoyed_reader writes "The Pete Rose Times has a story about baldass_newbie who was arrested for stealing Slashdot articles via wi-fi signals. Experts believe that there are scores of incidents of stealing slashdot articles. People have used the cloak of wireless to take old slashdot stories and resubmit them. Sometimes they use multiple aliases. The problem, experts say, is that slashdot editors do not take the time or are unsure how to check for duplicate story posts. Slashdot editor Zonk knew what to do. 'But I never did it because I was busy playing The Sims.'"
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) ( 613870 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:54AM (#13003544) Journal
    A big LED on your access point that flashes "Unsafe" when your network is connected up but doesn't have encryption switched on.
    • ...and can help me file this as an application for a low cost please reply here. Serious responses only please.
    • Your target market is makers of WiFi equipment, not end users. Makers of WiFi equipment WILL NOT EVER put a big blinking light labelled "unsafe" on their product!

      What you want to sell them is the idea of a big green light labelled "Secure" that comes on when the network is up and encryption is on. Not as effective to the end (l)user, but SALEABLE to the equipment maker.

      There was this guy who originally invented an easy way to get ketchup out of the bottle. Every ketchup maker in America turned him down. "
  • by lugar ( 561993 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @11:01AM (#13003609)
    Making some basic assumptions (the wireless was using an SSID, was unencrypted, and a DHCP server was available), any lawyer can make the valid claim that the wireless access point was intended for the public to use:

    - SSID was advertising the availability of the access point.
    - Absense of encryption re-enforces the fact that this was not a private network.
    - DHCP giving an IP address is as good as saying "have a seat, enjoy the connection".

    A good analogy would be to have a big sign in front of your house saying "Cookies inside!" (SSID). You leave the door propped open (lack of encryption). You have someone inside pull up a chair and invite the person to sit down and enjoy said cookies (DHCP).

    If you don't want people on your wireless, take appropriate steps to protect yourself. Someone breaking encryption to get access to a network is illegal. Connecting to an unprotected network should not be.
  • Zonk! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Excelsior ( 164338 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @11:07AM (#13003666)
    I used to play this game called Zork. Every time you walked into a room, you were presented the same description. It got very repetitive. Playing Zonk is apparently very similar.

    Zonk, read the damn site, or quit as an editor.
  • 1 - The average joe may not even know what he's connected too. So is he commiting a crime because YOU didnt secure your wireless? Last i heard it was legal to receive any transmissions that hit your property. ( Decrypting is another issue )

    2 - Does this also make it a crime to intentionally share your wireless? And what about *public* wifi?

    Its for the kids remember.. Blah.
  • latest kismet poll (Score:3, Interesting)

    by graf0z ( 464763 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @11:13AM (#13003716)
    Just returning from a one hour shopping expedition (in a german city) with a laptop in my backpack: 98 APs = 9 WPA + 29 WPA/WEP + 42 WEP + 18 unencrypted. Remember most WEP installations can be broken into (google for aircrack) with enough 802.11b frames collected.

    So it's about 20% unprotected, 40% badly protected and 30% badly protected if WEP mode is used by clients.


  • by alta ( 1263 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @11:17AM (#13003750) Homepage Journal
    Ok, here's my dirty dupe detect flow...

    When an article is "posted" the first thing that happens is every link in the article is compared to a URL_table that only has links, and the ID of the article linked.

    If there's a match, return the user to the posting page, put "DUPE ALERT" at the top, and give links to all the matching articles. Then the poster can use his most powerful computer (brain) to see if they are truley are, and they probably will be, URL's are pretty unique.

    If there is no match, then post the story, and add all the stories links the URL table.

    Here's what needs to be in the URL table:
    ID, StoryID, URL

    Pretty simple eh?

    Want to make it have less false positives?
    ID, StoryID, URL, Date

    Then when you do your match, only look for matches in the last year...

    Somebody make a patch, I don't know perl.
    • Here's a simpler idea:

      1.) The admins actually read the site
      2.) The admins remember, "Hey, that was our biggest story yesterday," and therefore don't post it again
      3.) There is no step three.

      Pretty simple, eh?
  • irony (Score:4, Funny)

    by spoonyfork ( 23307 ) <spoonyfork&gmail,com> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @11:18AM (#13003760) Journal
    I particularly enjoy seeing all the "dupe!" comments and jokes being moderated as -1, Redundant. Slashdot is certainly an Irony Free Zone.
  • by Hooptie ( 10094 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @11:25AM (#13003824) Homepage
    a violation of Amendment V to the US Constitution.

    from thomas.loc.gov [archives.gov]
    "...nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb..."
    Same person, same offence, 2 times. Sounds like a clear cut violation to me. This guy's lawyer should be all over this.


  • Here's my comment about how this story is a dupe and/or sucks.

    CmdrTaco... grumble grumble... Zonk, grumble grumble... slashd0t sux0r, grumble grumble.

    Someone give me bait. Grumble Grumble.

    Dupes are poops and dodongo dislike smoke.

    Can I get modded insightful/funny now that I contributed to dupe complaints 101?
  • Dupes? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by heri0n ( 786437 )
    Why don't they just make a small poll type thing on each post to vote if it's a dupe. If there's enough votes, the post is removed.
  • Subscribe? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the_rev_matt ( 239420 ) <slashbot&revmatt,com> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @11:50AM (#13004107) Homepage
    And this is why I don't pay for a subscription to slashdot. Until the editors can be bothered to care about the site, no way I'm paying my hard earned cash.
  • Quick somebody post the dupe again, so we can put this guy away for life. Or does Florida not have a three strikes law?

  • Extra! Extra! (Duplicate?)

    A member's only club has now accused a non-member for walking in front of their automatic door and opening it. "The scum was stealing our air conditioned oxygen." When asked why the club didn't put a common card lock, hand scanner, or security guard nearby, the owner replied "We aren't the thieves. We shouldn't have to go to extra trouble to secure our door!" Though the accused did not steal (anything other than the oxygen), it was his presence at the door that unnerved the owner

  • In other news... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by scottdj ( 136191 )
    Taking an unlocked car no longer considered stealing!

    Taking things from an unlocked home no longer considered burglary!

    Don't think those are valid analogies? How about:

    Staying in an unlocked home while the owners are out of town no longer considered illegal entry!
  • who do not turn on their encyrption/firewall what ever
    I did turn this stuff on , and things went to hell in a handbasket
    so, as in most cases where "lazy users" are blamed, the problem is actually crappy software/hardware

    (would we blame people for not using seatbelts if you had to spend 5 minutes adjusting them every day ?
  • TWICE in TWO DAYS??!?!?!

    Mother of God, there must be a lot of War Drivers in Florida!

    I wonder if Jeb Bush will start an anti-WiFi war?

    (Yesterday's arrest here: http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/07/ 06/0217252&tid=193&tid=17 [slashdot.org] )

  • Just dump ALL the stories submitted on the front page and let the /.'ers figure it out.

    Dump the editors, dump the moderators.

    We'll just spider the whole goddamn site - or let Google do it for us.

    Obviously the editing and moderating just is not working worth a shit.

    Like the guy in Hackers said: "Give...it...up!"
  • I think he should be made to give back all the wi-fi packets he stole. And the court should examine them carefully to make sure that they're the same ones, so he can't get away with just giving the rightful owner any old packets he happens to have lying around.
  • Victimless Crime? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CrazyTalk ( 662055 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @01:30PM (#13005344)
    What about those that just need internet access to check their email? Whenever I visit my parents, who have no computer (let alone a broadband internet connection) I take my wireless laptop and find a nearby unprotected network to surf and check my email. Should I be arrested? Who does this REALLY hurt? Similarly, I wouldn't mind someone tapping into my own wireless network at home for similar use.

BLISS is ignorance.