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Accidental WiFi access a criminal offense?

Posted on Wednesday, March 26 2008 @ 07:25:30 CET by

A bill introduced by a Maryland legislator that would hold users innocent when they accidentally access a WiFi network if facing trouble:
A bill introduced by a Maryland state delegate that would hold users innocent when they accidentally access the Wi-Fi services of portals other than the one they think they're logged onto, faces trouble today after an unfavorable report to the state's House Judiciary Committee.

Apparently, a June 2007 Fox News story about a Michigan man fined and put on probation for accessing a Wi-Fi network while parked outside a coffee shop rather than from inside it, got Maryland Delegate LeRoy E. Myers, Jr., thinking about whether such an act truly deserves criminalization. Last month, Myers and six co-sponsors introduced substitute legislation that would adjust Maryland law to make it clear that a wireless trespasser has to know he's a trespasser.

As state law currently reads, "A person may not intentionally, willfully, and without authorization access, attempt to access, cause to be accessed, or exceed the person's authorized access to all or part of a computer network, computer control language, computer, computer software, computer system, computer services, or computer database." (PDF available here)

Under the Myers bill, a separate clause would be written for wireless Internet access, copying the same basic text from the above paragraph, but adding the condition, "with knowledge that the access is unauthorized and prohibited by law."
More info at BetaNews.



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