Thursday, June 14, 2007
Michigan Man Fined for Using Coffee Shop's Wi-Fi Network
A Michigan man has been fined $400 and given 40 hours of community service for accessing an open wireless Internet connection outside a coffee shop. Under a little known state law against computer hackers, Sam Peterson II, of Cedar Springs, Mich., faced a felony charge after cops found him on March 27 sitting in front of the Re-Union street Café in Sparta, Mich., surfing the Web from his brand-new laptop. Last week, Peterson chose to pay the fine instead as part of a jail-diversion program.
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.
A few weeks later Peterson said he received a letter from the Kent County prosecutor’s office saying that he faced a felony charge of fraudulent access to computer networks and that a request had been made for an arrest warrant.
Skype is great!