Using your computer outside: Illegal?

Check out this crap

AKMA, was using his computer outside a public library. He opened up his laptop and it connected to an open network automatically so he began using it. Not soon after, a police officer came up and told him he couldn’t use the library’s wireless internet unless he was inside the library (it was closed at the time).

He then offered to disconnect from the network completely and the police officer just said:

Why don’t you just close that up, sir, or use your computer elsewhere?

He also tried to tell the guy that it was against the law to use an open wireless access point:

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

What a load of crap. On one hand I find it absolutely sickening that our law enforcment officers are so ignorant of the actual laws and on the other hand I find it totally unsurprising.

Bonus Story. There was a comment left on the original post I linked to:

I once tried to take a picture of a federal courthouse on a weekend (the purpose was to use on our firm’s website). I was approached by a building security cop who told me I was not allowed to take pictures of the court. I asked him why. He said it was against the law. And I informed him that I was a lawyer and I had worked in that very building and was aware of all of the laws that might pertain to picture taking of public buildings and he was, unfortunately, misinformed.

I told him that I didn’t want to put him an awkward position so I would stop taking pictures, but I told him that he might want to brush up on the law. Obviously, people are allowed to take pictures of public buildings while standing on a public street. What’s amazing is that something that most people would instinctively understand as a fundamental right, a policeman can be trained to prohibit with minimal effort. I think there’s a lesson here.

I’ve heard countless stories of people being harassed over walking down the street taking simple pictures. How do cops think they can get away with such blatant abuse of their power?