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Thread: Use of open networks in FL can cause an arrest

  1. #31
    Senior Member IKnowNot's Avatar
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    I stayed away from this one for a while for several reasons ( not the least of which the fact that it took days for Comcast to respond, then repair their lines. ) But since it is still going, I have a few thoughts on the matter, though I am no expert.

    First, to respond to nihil who asked
    So, your "theft of services" is the same problem? "THEY" don't actually have a proper crime on the statute books?
    In New Jersey
    N.J.S.A. 2C:20-8. Theft of Services.
    a) A person is guilty of theft if he purposely obtains services which he knows are available only for compensation, by deception or threat, or by false token, slug, or other means, including but not limited to mechanical or electronic devices or through fraudulent statements, to avoid payment for the service. "Services" include labor or professional service; transportation, telephone, telecommunications, electric, water, gas, cable television, or other public service; ...
    In response to something mohaughn said
    How many people here think it is perfectly legal to walk into a public place of business, and hook their laptop into the rj45 connection sitting behind the water cooler? It may not get you arrested, but as soon as somebody in that office sees you sitting on the floor with your laptop hooked up to the wall they are going to ask you what you are doing. Same thing applies. There is no sign that specifically says you don't have the right to use this, but there is nothing that would give you the impression that you have the right to use it. In some cases, you probably would get arrested depending on how the office workers wanted to treat you.
    XTC46 said
    actually this would be tresspassing. And I wouldnt be so sure about people questioning what you are doing...or atleast not caring. Its amazing how far "Im here to fix the computers" will get you until somone with even a little knowledge will call your bluff.
    That is totally incorrect ( at least in New Jersey ). It was a public place ( key word here is public.) The person was a member of the public and thus entitled to be there ( they did not say the business was closed, did not say the person was not authorized to enter, nor that the person surreptitiously remained within. ) It would be Theft of Services, maybe, see below.

    This highlights several problems when attempting to prosecute someone: what law exactly did the person violate? Did the person damage files? Obtain information such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, etc.? ( again, see below.)

    The ECPA ( Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, this amendment affected several sections of the law ) that Negative referred to is very complex to say the least. Although he covered it rather well so briefly, to say that one connecting to an
    Open network, and you connect to it unintentionally: nothing illegal about that
    would depend greatly on who's network and what the person did when they realized they were connected, what frequencies they were listening on, etc. Again, very complex.

    And who is allowed to enforce? Well, there again, it depends what applicable statute was violated in the U.S. Code, but for the wiretap, basically any law enforcement agency including local government, but do they actually know that?

    Would Barney Fife know what statute or code applied?
    Would he ( now, not when the show was written ) be trained for such things?

    Obviously ( as in the case of N.J. as described above ) a case could be made for theft of services if one attempted to access the Internet via the connection, because they are now using services described which they are not entitled to. But who is the victim? The cable company? The subscriber?

    What about ( as mentioned ) someone who intentionally leaves the network open for others to connect to? Without knowing the subscriber's intentions and contract with the ISP it would be hard for any law enforcement officer to bring charges.

    I suppose their best recourse would be to at least detain the person for identity purposes and confiscate all equipment as evidence. Remember, law enforcement, at least here in the U.S., don't need to prove anything immediatly, just have Probable Cause. And the probability in a case such as described ( in the article ) is they violated either the ECPA or committed Theft of Services. Proof would come later, after the equipment was properly examined and a proper investigation was done. But each case would have to be judged individually.

    Even if the proof was not able to be obtained, how useful do you think that laptop would be by the time the person got it back? ( Remember, it could take years to do so. ) Are you willing to chance losing that shiny new laptop?

    Just my thoughts.
    " And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be" --Miguel Cervantes

  2. #32
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    Thank you IKnowNot for your response..............

    Over here the problem would be largely how the service is provided. Now, if you steal my gas or water or electricity I can have you, because I am on meters and pay for quantity consumed.

    My broadband and telephones are on contract.............I pay a fixed sum for any amount of use, that is where I perceive the problem to be................I cannot demonstrate any additional cost or personal loss? and that would be what the law requires?

    If you cannot do someone any good: don't do them any harm....
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  3. #33
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    Well,

    Based on the general consensus of "theft" most people here. The only real way around the issue is removing devices from the public domain and licensing their installation by utility companies. It will then no longer be an open and public situtation.
    West of House
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    There is a small mailbox here.

  4. #34
    0_o Mastermind keezel's Avatar
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    Why are so many totally open wireless networks out there anyway? It's my opinion that this is the real problem... I'm in downtown Atl a lot, and I often have several open networks to choose from. Nobody has any concept of security with wireless networks it seems. Oftentimes all it takes is the click of a button (possibly a little more effort) to enable WEP, which would deter 99.9% of unauthorized people from even taking a second look at your network. The only people that would are the ones that are specifically hunting for *your* network...and the odds of that are low.

    As far as what would qualify as theft.... Assuming that you haven't broken any laws, it becomes a matter of opinion. If you by chance connect to a nearby network (meaning your computer automatically connected to the nearest, strongest available network through no actions of your own), then does it comes down to exactly how much of a drain you put on the network? Anyone would consider it theft if you're downloading music and video files, but I'm guessing that not everyone would if you're simply checking email, completely oblivious to the fact that you're on a network that's not intended for public use.

    Of course most of us are educated enough about the subject to know when we're intruding, but I've seen people sitting around this pavillion eating Subway (a popular spot to eat for my Uni) and surfing the web from this one business's network. I doubt if they even realize that they're outside the radius of the school's network and that they've connected to a different one.

  5. #35
    Senior Member IKnowNot's Avatar
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    My post became very long before so I cut it. I will continue. Hopefully this will also answer some other questions. Remember, this is my interpretation only. Check with all applicable laws and Prosecutors having jurisdiction before charging anyone with offenses under the described statutes.

    nihil ,
    In New Jersey, for someone to connect to a computer network as the Florida case, which uses say a dial-up connection, for the purposes of Theft of Services the subscriber is not the victim ( strictly speaking ) but it is the telecommunications company providing the service which is the victim. For the purpose of this section it is irrelevant of the financial amount of services used ( except in determining fines. )
    2C:20-8. Theft of services ...
    h. Any person who, with the intent of depriving a telephone company of its lawful charges therefor, purposely or knowingly makes use of any telecommunications service by means of the unauthorized use of any electronic or mechanical device or connection, or by the unauthorized use of billing information, or by the use of a computer, computer equipment or computer software, or by the use of misidentifying or misleading information given to a representative of the telephone company is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

    The existence of any of the conditions with reference to electronic or mechanical devices, computers, computer equipment or computer software described in this subsection is presumptive evidence { emphasis added } that the person to whom telecommunications service is at the time being furnished has, with intent to obtain telecommunications service without authorization or compensation or to otherwise defraud, created or caused to be created the condition so existing.
    That means three to five years in jail. The statute provides a similar structure for theft of cable television services, which could include cable broadband access.

    Now the bad news.

    1st)
    ... In addition to any other disposition authorized by law, and notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:43-3, every person who violates this section shall be sentenced to make restitution to the vendor and to pay a minimum fine of $500.00 for each offense. In determining the amount of restitution, the court shall consider the costs expended by the vendor, including but not limited to the repair and replacement of damaged equipment, the cost of the services unlawfully obtained, investigation expenses, and attorney fees.
    The cost of the service here could be negligible compared to the cost of the investigation and attorney fees.

    2nd) ( provided in several places within the statute )
    Any communications paraphernalia, computer, computer equipment or computer software prohibited under this subsection shall be subject to forfeiture and may be seized by the State or any law enforcement officer in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.2C:64-1 et seq.
    Mind you, the act of Theft of Services and the possession of equipment are both crimes, and can be charged separately .

    Also, if someone were to provide such services ( say, through an open Wi-Fi ) purposely so that others can use the services when they have no legal right to do so ( that should be spelled out in the contract the person has with the provider ) they could also be charged under this statute.


    Since we already covered the federal statutes, I want to touch briefly on the state statutes concerning computer crime.

    2C:20-25 Computer criminal activity; degree of crime; sentencing.

    A person is guilty of computer criminal activity if the person purposely or knowingly and without authorization, or in excess of authorization:

    a.Accesses any data, data base, computer storage medium, computer program, computer software, computer equipment, computer, computer system or computer network; ...
    This statute obviously contains much more, including damaging data, coping data, altering data, describes distinct types of data ( and owners ), etc., and anyone wishing to dig through these further can look them up. But the reason I included this here should be obvious. Just accessing the system via Wi-Fi ( once the connection is known ) is a crime of the third degree ( again ). And again, each offense under this section would be charged separately.

    As mentioned before I am not sure how many law enforcement officers are aware never mind trained properly in these statutes, but they are on the books and available.
    Another point to consider is the cost of an investigation. Even if someone is caught red handed, the computer equipment would have to be analyzed. How many agencies have this ability? How many are willing to spend the money and resources?

    Just my thoughts.
    " And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be" --Miguel Cervantes

  6. #36
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    Hi IKnowNot Interesting.

    We don't have statutes like that over here. We have all the stuff about damaging equipment and stealing data, but not "services"

    I have ADSL and 56.6 dial up. The ADSL is a contract to supply the service to my home. If someone accessed my WiFi then it is MY service they are using, not the Telco's, as I have already paid them for it. Fot this reason the Telco couldn't care less, they are getting paid for what they are providing.

    If for some reason the intruder exceeded my bandwidth I would have a case, as I would be charged extra, and would have a demonstrable loss. In the case of 56.6 it costs me 0.01 per minute, so I would have an immediate loss. Over here, you need to demonstrate loss or deprivation, or it won't even get to court other than as a civil case. It would be classed as gratuitous litigation, which I can assure you is a very expensive pastime.

    In neither case would our police show the slightest bit of interest. I would be bluntly told to p1$$ off and hire a security consultant. They would be far more interested in software piracy which is a criminal offence and for which they would be able to enlist the support of out Trading Standards Office, Customs & Excise and even the Inland Revenue (the proceeds of crime are taxable over here )

    I suspect that our Telcos steer well away from the technology side as they got a hammering years ago when they introduced cordless phones that did not handshake with the base unit..........people got some very interesting phone bills. So long as someone is paying them what they want, that is all they care about.

    I recall reading that the FBI and Secret Service are not interested in anything involving a loss of less that $5000?.

    My current feeling is that these laws you refer to are badly flawed as they are effectively unenforceable? Your agencies just do not have the resources and probably lack the expertise as well? Anyway aren't terrorism, rape, murder, narcotics, grand theft auto etc rather more important?

    I have always taken the view that an unenforceable law is a bad law and should not be on the statute books.

    If you cannot do someone any good: don't do them any harm....
    As long as you did this to one of these, the least of my little ones............you did it unto Me.
    What profiteth a man if he gains the entire World at the expense of his immortal soul?

  7. #37
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    You hit the nail on the head Nihil. Say that 5 times fast.

    demonstrate loss or deprivation, or it won't even get to court other than as a civil case
    Same here, no damages no case.


    I have always taken the view that an unenforceable law is a bad law and should not be on the statute books.
    And the law is flawed, it's unenforceable and in retrospect unconstitutional in some cases. Unenforcable laws border on idiocy and are the play ground of politicians seeking to appease the ignorant populace.
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  8. #38
    Senior Member IKnowNot's Avatar
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    you need to demonstrate loss or deprivation, or it won't even get to court other than as a civil case.
    Actually, here it is opposite. You do not need to show a loss in a criminal matter, but must show a loss for a civil proceeding: no loss ( damages ), no case.

    Generally speaking, most of the theft statutes ( with a few exceptions as you have seen ) depend on the amount of theft to determine the grading of the offense. The more monetary amount involved, the greater the crime, and thus the greater the penalties. But the offense was still committed.

    The ADSL is a contract to supply the service to my home. If someone accessed my WiFi then it is MY service they are using, not the Telco's, as I have already paid them for it. Fot this reason the Telco couldn't care less, they are getting paid for what they are providing.
    I guess this is all in how you look at it and exactly how the laws are written. If you climbed a utility pole ( or dug down to the wires ) and tapped into your neighbors telephone lines are you cheating your neighbor ( who may be very pissed off ) or are you cheating the Telco because you are not paying them for using their lines, equipment, etc? Even though your neighbor paid for their services, you are cheating the Telco of collecting additional service charges from you.

    In neither case would our police show the slightest bit of interest. I would be bluntly told to p1$$ off and hire a security consultant. ...
    My current feeling is that these laws you refer to are badly flawed as they are effectively unenforceable? Your agencies just do not have the resources and probably lack the expertise as well?
    Generally speaking, although they probably could be more specific, they are not necessarily flawed and are enforceable. However, again, I agree lack of resources and expertise are major factors when attempting to enforce them. ( I'll get back to this )

    They would be far more interested in software piracy which is a criminal offence and for which they would be able to enlist the support of out Trading Standards Office, Customs & Excise and even the Inland Revenue (the proceeds of crime are taxable over here )
    Al Capone ring a bell?

    Unenforcable laws border on idiocy and are the play ground of politicians seeking to appease the ignorant populace.
    No debate here! And no doubt political grandstanding had much to do with the creation of these laws. But it is how they are applied that matters. That's where proper education of law enforcement comes in ( or lack thereof. ) If they are trained properly and apply the laws appropriately there would be no problem ( why my disclaimers are needed. )

    Back to enforcement.
    If every law enforcement officer seized every laptop computer they saw with Wi-Fi because it could be used to connect to a computer or computer equipment, etc. of another who also used Wi-Fi ( technically under the statutes would be a violation ) the statute would be thrown out and there would be no convictions. But, if they only seized computers where they had probable cause to believe the equipment was actually used to connect to equipment of another unlawfully, the claim by the defendant would ( should ) not arise that the law was too broadly written. ( basically, abuse it and loose it. )

    Just as not every speeder is stopped and issued a speeding ticket, not everyone tapping Wi-Fi will be caught ( probably next to none up until now. ) But with such publicity will come awareness by both law enforcement officials and the general public. The more people become aware, the more they will think suspicious of a vehicle parked in some neighborhood with someone using a laptop. The more calls the police get, the more pressure will be put on them to actually learn the laws concerning computers and related crimes. This also leads to more opportunities for the politicians to grand stand. So I would expect, after this, to see more such stories.
    " And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be" --Miguel Cervantes

  9. #39
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    I must admit that I find these discussions rather interesting, particularly as ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the Law over here.

    Actually, here it is opposite. You do not need to show a loss in a criminal matter, but must show a loss for a civil proceeding: no loss ( damages ), no case.
    Hmmm, I have noticed a certain tendency for American Law to criminalise things that would be civil actions over here. I suspect that like ourselves you must have "cease and desist" and "specific performance" in your civil laws?

    If you climbed a utility pole ( or dug down to the wires ) and tapped into your neighbors telephone lines are you cheating your neighbor ( who may be very pissed off ) or are you cheating the Telco because you are not paying them for using their lines,
    Now this is a really amusing one................that is actually a VERY SERIOUS CRIMINAL offence over here...........you would be looking at 7 years?, maybe 14? This is possibly historical? the postal system and the telephones used to be run by the same government body...........the laws remain.

    Generally speaking, although they probably could be more specific, they are not necessarily flawed and are enforceable. However, again, I agree lack of resources and expertise are major factors when attempting to enforce them. ( I'll get back to this )
    That is another interesting one...........my real criticism is that the laws are too detailed and specific and criminalise things that are probably best left civil, or midemeanours?

    Al Capone ring a bell?
    ...................yes the FBI couldn't nail him but the IRS put him in Joliet for 11 years for tax evasion. They also have a much better expenses budget than our lot..........proper meal and booze in central London rather than sandwiches and coffee

    the law was too broadly written
    Strangely, that seems to be a deliberate policy over here............write the laws loose and let case law and precedence sort it out? BUT, please remember that we would consider most of this issue to be civil law, not criminal. Obviously there is a big difference in approach?

    I find this very interesting because we have yet to draft our laws in these areas, how you guys get on will probably help us a lot.
    If you cannot do someone any good: don't do them any harm....
    As long as you did this to one of these, the least of my little ones............you did it unto Me.
    What profiteth a man if he gains the entire World at the expense of his immortal soul?

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