Pilfered Privacy

iStock_000014700004SmallHave you ever read a news story about a burglar who hurts himself burglarizing a property and then sues the owner/victim for pain and suffering? I have a few times and it always makes me angry. But it makes me angrier when some jury actually awards the crook money. It’s an upside down world, especially when those that are doing wrong expect to be rewarded. The other day I read an article about the expectation of privacy and the internet. (WSJ “Pilfered Wi-Fi Is No Shield From Prying Eyes of Police.” Monday 09/26/2012) The fact that a man who steals internet service by piggybacking off his neighbor’s connection and then expects that his right to privacy is protected by the Fourth Amendment doesn’t surprise me, but it is irritating.

The right to privacy, spelled out in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The internet stealer thought that because the police have to use special software (interestingly enough called “Moocherhunter”) they should have been required to get a warrant before trying to find him and tried to suppress the evidence they’d found against him.  (He’s a pedophile, downloads kiddie porn) Thankfully the court ruled against him. The person who pays for the internet connection through a subscriber service can’t hide behind their IP address so neither can the thief. But the case will be appealed, the suspect’s lawyer thinks that her client should get a pass. Basically her reasoning is, he stole the internet connection to keep his location private, therefore it’s a Fourth Amendment issue.

It’s an interesting case, but I see it no differently than the burglar suing his victims.  The crook was in the wrong on so many levels, the law should not be his savior.

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