Sir, you can’t use the Internet outside the library

  • This is an unhappy conversation on many many levels:


    The officer in question (whose conduct was entirely professional, firm, and calm behind those mirrored shades) solemnly assured me that in order to use the library’s open wireless signal, I had to be seated within the library. The officer then wandered on back to the nearby police station.

    ‘Maybe if you had permission it would be all right, but it’s a new law, sir; ‘theft of signal.’ It would be like if you stole someone’s cable TV connection.�

    ‘It’s a federal law, sir; a Secret Service agent came and explained it to us.’

    [via Blogos]

  • The comments on the article above include the useful link EFF: Best Practices for Online Service Providers that advocates minimizing legal problems by minimizing information collection.
  • Having had to dig hard to track down aggressive intruders, I also worry about lacking the ability to investigate attacks on infrastructure (mine or everybody’s). While this application of “theft of services” looks bogus, it is a tool that I’d like to have when somebody is really attacking my network or systems. Meanwhile, there is a permanent tension between knowing what’s happening on your network (say, if you’re an ISP tracking botnets) and maintaining ignorance as a legal defense.

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