There are a lot of things you can do in life that will land you in a federally sanctioned rape camp: pot for one, and ironically enough rape is another. As it turns out, the bronze-medal crime is not murder, fraud, or treason, it's wardriving.
Yes indeedy, turning on your laptop in an area covered by someone's unencrypted wireless router is now a third degree felony. I mean holy Christ, you'd think the guy was pirating movies or something.
There are a lot of analogies a person could make about "stealing" unprotected WiFi bandwidth: walking into an unlocked house and making a local phone call, watching your neighbours TV through a window, or stealing french-fries off someone's plate in an all-you-can-eat buffet. Personally, I don't think those metaphors are... visceral enough.
It's like going to a frat party. You weren't specifically invited to the party, but then again the party has spilled out onto the street in front and you were basically handed a beer while walking by. Now, you wouldn't expect to be arrested for just being at the party. Maybe if you broke into the liquor cabinet and stole a bottle of scotch, or got in line for one of the passed-out sorority girls, that would be a crime. But not just being swept into the party without written, notarized permission from the owner of the house.
If I had wireless (and I currently don't, because my laptop still needs to be plugged into the wall to run for more than 20 minutes, so what's another wire?) I would turn on WEP. Not because it's "secure," because it quite demonstrably isn't, but as a sort of sign to prospective bandwidth bandits (bandwits?) that I don't want everybody piling on my connection and slowing down my porn appropriation program. At the very least, it will serve as a barrier to entry, like a skill testing question or a height restriction on a rollercoaster. Like only giving root access to your kids after they learn how to hack it for themselves.
Turning on WEP is the equivalent of closing your front door. Sure, you didn't lock it, but most people won't walk up to a door and check if it's locked, even if there's a party going on. If someone actually goes to the trouble of cracking your WEP password, they know what they're doing is a bit dodgy. If you don't, you're practically begging people to use your bandwidth. Heck, in some apartment buildings they won't even be able to stop their computer using the strongest signal.
It says something about the current media culture that a guy can be arrested for downloading child porn with no pants on while driving the wrong way down a one-way street, and it's the fact that he was pirating WiFi that gets the focus of the story. As if downloading child porn pantsless in public is an everyday occurance, mentioned only for the sake of context.
It takes a pretty hip technological angle to trump child porn. Child porn is so sexy even Shaq-Daddy wants a piece of the action. It brings so much political collateral that it gets used as an excuse to attack regular, non-illegal porn.
And yet, even all that thinking-of-the-children can't beat a good wardriving story. One wonders how wardriving would fair against triangle man.
Thus ends the guest artist saga. Everything will return to normal on Thursday, and by that I mean I'll put up some Photoshopped dialog-remix filler and apologise for Penguin and Schnee. Props to Battle Dwarf for saving me that ignominy the last couple weeks.