Dutch police raise alarm over Eastern Europeans stealing Wi-Fi access

Dutch police are telling people to secure their open networks after having trapped a couple of Eastern European men — in different places on different dates — sitting in cars with a laptop using someone’s Internet connection. While it’s not clear that the men were doing nothing more than checking email or looking up a Google map, the police have decided to raise alarm bells a bit more by suggesting that strangers in cars using open connections could *gasp* be uploading and downloading kiddie porn using open connections.

There are several things that make this police bulletin seem like pure hysteria. First, it combines a number of elements that the Dutch population is already alarmed about: Eastern European men (presumably taking good jobs away from the locals) and child pornography. Second, we still don’t know what those guys were doing. Were they simply checking email? To rush to the conclusion that people like this are trading child pornography promotes the stereotype of the Eastern Europeans as being involved in organized crime.

Apparently, a lot of Eastern Europeans who are in the Netherlands do not have permanent addresses; many work in construction so it’s quite reasonable to assume that somewhere along the way, between construction jobs in various towns, they would stop over and use an open connection to check their email and Google an address.