The Michigan police arrested Sam Peterson for using from his car the free WiFi network that Union Street Cafe has reserved solely for its customers. Peterson escaped the penalty of five-year imprisonment and paying a $10,000 fee, as prescribed by the state’s “fraudulent access to computers, computer systems, and computer networks” law. Prosecutors only demanded that he pay a $400 fine and perform 40 hours of community service, arguing that Peterson was possibly unaware that he broke the law. The arrest will not be reflected on his record as well.
Authorities in other states have made similar arrests. In 2005, a Florida man was charged with a third degree felony for tapping an open WiFi network from his SUV. Last year, an Illinois resident pleaded guilty for using an unsecured WiFi network from his car while someone in Washington was apprehended for parking outside a coffee shop and using the store’s WiFi connection without buying anything. This year, a man in Alaska had a similar fate after hours of piggybacking on the public library’s wireless network to play games from his car in the parking lot.