A letter to the village idiots...AHEM, elders.
Here is an email I wrote to the village idiots...ahem, TOWN OFFICIALS of the village of Sparta, Michigan.
Feel free to Web mob them into sensibility.
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Village of Sparta,
Your totalitarian and absolutely disgraceful prosecution of Sam Peterson (Michigan man busted for stealing Wi-Fi signal; could have received five years - http://blogs.zdnet.com/ip-telephony/?p=1640) is despicable, inane, backward and farcical. I should drive out to Sparta, Michigan just to get arrested for accessing unencrypted Wi-Fi in order to challenge your ridiculous "law;" Mr. Peterson must simply not have had the resources to do so.
752.795 Prohibited conduct.
A person shall not intentionally and without authorization or by exceeding valid authorization do any of the following:
(a) Access or cause access to be made to a computer program, computer, computer system, or computer network to acquire, alter, damage, delete, or destroy property or otherwise use the service of a computer program, computer, computer system, or computer network.
(b) Insert or attach or knowingly create the opportunity for an unknowing and unwanted insertion or attachment of a set of instructions or a computer program into a computer program, computer, computer system, or computer network, that is intended to acquire, alter, damage, delete, disrupt, or destroy property or otherwise use the services of a computer program, computer, computer system, or computer network. This subdivision does not prohibit conduct protected under section 5 of article I of the state constitution of 1963 or under the first amendment of the constitution of the United States.
...is not only completely over-broad in its definition (or lack of definition) as to what constitutes "unauthorized" access to a computer network, it is also completely out of step with actual technology; there is no such thing as "unauthorized" access to an open, unencrypted Wi-Fi network!!!
This is not the same thing as breaking into someone's home or hacking someone's computer or even an encrypted Wi-Fi network, where there is an expectation of privacy. It is broadcast on an open channel, much like public radio or even official, unencrypted radio transmissions - someone receiving radio transmissions is not illegal, and unless people like you get their way, never will be. Using an unencrypted Wi-Fi signal is completely unintrusive.
Prosecuting someone for such an act violates their rights, both under the Michigan Constitution of 1963 and the United States Constitution, to not be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures and to due process - they are being prosecuted for unintrusively receiving and sending digital information using technology in the exact manner in which such technology was designed, with no harm to either party and with no zero-sum gain involved (no one loses anything). To equate this with theft effectively makes the entire Internet illegal.
This same law technically makes it illegal to access your village's own public website, as either no "authorization" to "acquire" packets from most servers is formally granted to, or is acquirable by, end users, or such authorization is considered automatic and built into the technology itself.
It also makes it illegal in your village to use opensource software since such software is based on an agreement to require open access to the source code with no authorization. It makes it illegal to access the websites of any service provider, without specific permission to do so.
You are all breaking this law every time you access cnn.com. Pop-up email ads are also illegal and technically, you are breaking the law right now by receiving/reading my email, since no explicit end-user authorization was granted through my email host to your email host and then to you, in order to send or receive information to/from me.
Police chief Andrew Milanowski should be fired, the law should be repealed and Sam Peterson should be free to go with all charges dropped. The village owes him a public apology.
This story is all over the Internet now, and Sparta, Michigan is rapidly becoming known as the new heartland of ignorance because of the actions of one overzealous police officer and a poorly researched law written out of hype and stupidity.
Congratulations! Sparta, Michigan is now known throughout the world, and will be for some time!
Please forward this to every village official...oh wait, that would violate village ordinance 752.795. Never mind. I will do it myself, since I am outside the jurisdiction.
Sincerely (glad I do not live in Sparta, Michigan),
[your name here]