I blogged last week about a Michigan man facing felony charges (5 years, $10,000) for using a cafe’s free wireless signal from inside his car. Today I find out that the case is already settled, under something called a “diversion program”, designed to keep our prisons from overcrowding (which is what happens when you write stupid laws that turn ordinary people into felons). He now pays a $400 fine and serves 40 hours of community service, and he also stays on probation for 6 months. According to the story, felony charges will be filed if he violates the program. That indicates that he is, at least, not a felon now, which is a good thing (hard for felons to get jobs, illegal to own a gun, etc), but it sticks in my craw that the state essentially extorted this man. This law has got to go. Or at least be rewritten so as to not turn a good portion of the population into felons.
And remember: If a cop ever asks you what you’re doing on your laptop, the answer is “looking at a file”. Hell, you could even say you’re looking at a file on your local hard drive. It’s the truth. By the time it appears on your screen, it’s a local file, stored in your browser’s temp directory. You know, somebody should write a Firefox add-on that displays the URL for the page you’re looking at as the path to the local file.