Michigan charged Sam Peterson II with a felony for accessing a coffee-shop’s WiFi network from his car over several weeks. The police visited Sam’s car after a barber next to the coffee-shop mistook Sam for a stalker.
The police didn’t know what to do, so they referred the case to the local prosecutor. The prosecutor’s office decided to charge Sam with fraudulently accessing a computer network, a felony punishable by up to five years in the slammer. Sam’s lawyers had never heard of the 1979 statute, but they advised him to take a plea bargain that allowed him to stay out of jail after paying a $400 fine and performing 40 hours of community service.
To avoid Sam’s fate, Michigan residents must get explicit permission to use a hotspot from its owner, or see a pop-up screen declaring that the hotspot is open to the public. To further reduce the chance of getting slapped with a felony charge for using a business’ WiFi connection, go in and buy something. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER
Michigan Man Fined for Using Coffee Shop’s Wi-Fi Network [Fox News via My Two Dollars]