“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Most people know when they’re breaking the law, whether speeding or something more sinister. However, there are a handful of common things nearly all of us have done at some point that are actually illegal. How many of these laws have you broken?

Using a Fake Name Online
Using a fake name or identity, whether completely fictional or a real person’s, is a federal crime. It doesn’t matter if the fake name is used for social media, to access a dating site, or use some other online service… any use of a fake (or borrowed) name online counts. Why? Using fake information to access services and sites online means you are using them in a way the provider hasn’t authorized. Service providers expect your true information, so giving false info falls under the definition of “unauthorized access” in the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The strongest application of the law equates using a fake name with hacking and if convicted, entails as much as 10 years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines.

Using Open/Unsecured WiFi Networks
WiFi theft or squatting also falls under the “unauthorized access” provision of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which includes language that applies the law to wireless networks and routers. Whether you access a neighbor’s unsecured network without their permission or connect to public WiFi in a way that violates the terms of use, both cases are breaking the law. How does using public WiFi break the law? An example would be sitting in your car in the parking lot of a local eatery to use their WiFi without entering or patronizing the business. In nearly all cases, their terms of use state the service is intended for customers.

Possessing Permanent Markers in Public
Most states have anti-graffiti clauses in their vandalism laws that makes carrying tools for graffiti, such as spray paint and permanent markers, illegal. Many states go a step further and prohibit the sale of permanent markers to anyone under 18 years old or purchase of permanent markers on behalf of a person who is younger than 18.

Writing “Disturbing Material”
The First Amendment doesn’t apply here. Many states view writing “disturbing material” as an act of disorderly conduct for its potential of to cause public distress or sense of threat… even if you never publish it or post it anywhere publicly. If someone reads it and reports you, your short story about zombies attacking city hall can land you in jail and owing some hefty fees.

Singing the Happy Birthday Song in Public
How is this common and simple celebratory song sung off-key in restaurants and gatherings all over the country every single day breaking the law? Copyright infringement. Indeed, the Happy Birthday song is under a copyright owned by Time Warner. Even if there is no money earned from the “performance”, any public performance requires payment of royalties to the copyright holder, by law. Before you dismiss this law as unenforceable, you should know that an average of $2 million in royalties is collected every year for just this song. The Girl Scouts were even the target of a lawsuit for violating this copyright (the suit was later dropped due to public outcry).

How many of these laws have you unknowingly broken? If you’re like most people, you may have broken every one of them. In the case of singing the Happy Birthday song in public, most of us have been cluelessly breaking that law since childhood.