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A man was last week fined £500 after a British jury found him guilty of using a neighborhood wireless broadband connection without permission. Gregory Straszkiewicz, 24, was also sentenced to a 12 months conditional discharge after he was convicted of dishonestly obtaining an communications service and related offences at London's Islewoth Crown Court last Wednesday (20 July).

The case - brought under the Communications Act 2003 - is the first "war driving" prosecution in the UK, according the police. Officers caught Straszkiewicz hunting for "free" net connections in a residential area after complaints from locals. Straszkiewicz deliberately set out to borrow bandwidth from his unwitting benefactors but there's no evidence he had any hostile motive beyond this - so his sentence seems harsh. It's unclear whether anyone who accidentally jumped onto another party's net connection (easy to do if a host is using an unsecured connection with no encryption) might also risk prosecution. ®

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