They, whoever “they” are who sort out these things, haven’t quite worked out all the ins and outs of the internet and internet use. So we have a wide range of “opinions” out there about everything from internet porn to intellectual property rights to website content–some people seek to ban websites that inform young girls on the very best ways to become an anorexic and then hide the disease; other groups would like to see access limited, at least from schools and public libraries in the U. S., to websites that provide recipes for bombs of all kinds, bombs to meet one’s every need. This blog isn’t about any of that. At least not directly.
I just read an article about a Singapore youth (17) convicted of tapping illegally into his neighbor’s wireless internet access. This is a jailable offense in Singapore, but then graffiti painting is punishable by a public beating (remember that American kid who . . . no, wait, back to the internet thing). The internet access stealing kid in question is lucky that he was sentenced to only eighty (80) hours community service and eighteen (18) months probation; he could have been sentenced to three (3) years in prison and a fine up to 10,000 Singapore dollars ($6,500 U. S. and 3,320.21 English pounds–I don’t know how to make the pound sign on here, sorry). For tapping into his neighbor’s wireless and accessing the internet to play online games. The poor kid is even being shuffled off to see a shrink for his “addiction.”
The kid didn’t tap into his neighbor’s computer and wreak havoc with his files, and he didn’t use the internet connection to do any nefarious deeds . . . at least none were reported; he just wanted to play online video games. Somehow, I just don’t see the big. I have wireless, it’s encrypted so random folks can’t tap in, but if someone did, I wouldn’t press charges if they’re just checking their email or playing some game. Once they start finding ways onto my computer or using my ip addy to buy white slaves or illegal drugs . . . well, then we have a problem, but these activities fall under existing laws about the badness of buying people and/or drugs.
I guess this story hits home with me because when I was at my mom’s this Christmas, I was using her neighbor’s wireless connection whenever it was available (not often) and for brief periods of time (like in five minute chunks). My laptop just picked it up out of the ether, like magic. I did nothing at all to get it, wouldn’t have known what to do to get it, actually, and when it dropped, it dropped. I guess I could have hit “help” and put a stop to that convenient if unreliable not dial up access, but . . . well, why? I was just trying to blog. But I can assure you, if I’d known it was illegal (not sure of U. S. laws on this?) or if I’d been in Singapore, I would not have been so cavalier about it.