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The Joys of School And "Website Protection" 333

Posted by Hemos
from the stupid-stupid-laws dept.
jeffy124 writes "New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Torricelli has proposed federal legislation titled the School Website Protection Act of 2001 that would criminally punish students who disrupt school networks, whether it be elemantary, high school, or college. Unfortunately, the legislation makes common acts like sending e-mail to a teacher an offense that can be investigated by the Secret Service and punishable by 10 years incarceration. It almost seems as if sitting at a lab computer and logging in is illegal."
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The Joys of School And "Website Protection"

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Vague wording is no better than malicious wording.

    This law is utterly unnecessary, and the potential abuses far outweigh the potential benefits.

    There is no way that ordinary school disciplinary procedures could not handle this stuff. Should side-stepping windows nt permissions & playing Starcraft in the library be punishable by a maximum of 10 years in jail, while writing "PRINCIPL REED IS A FUKWAD" on the bathroom walls (requiring a repaint) will give you at worst a week's suspension? That's not what the bill says, you say, it's just a possible misinterpretation. Well, if a court could misinterpret it that way, then the bill should not be passed in its current form. If it's passed at all.

    Schools are places of learning. Therefore we should encourage students to play with the computer systems and learn from them, not subliminally tell them that exploring what is possible on the system could cross a (very vague) line that could land them in jail. In its present form, the bill does that, and clarifying things to the point where the bill is not unacceptably vague would essentially just say "doing illegal computer things is even more illegal if you do them to a computer network."

    No?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, to quote from one of the other great dystopian novels, Atlas Shrugged (yes, I know all the Rand haters disagree, so what? Since people still hate her, that just means she's more relevant):
    "Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts that you are up against - then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws." -- Atlas Shrugged, Signet Fiction Paperback, 1992, pg. 406.
    I consider Rand a flawed writer, but her understanding of the evils of government was solid. (Not suprising, as she came from the old Soviet Union, where the joke was that everything not prohibited was compulsory.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @05:22PM (#2177669)
    What, exactly, is the purpose of your argument? Do you want to argue that computers should be removed from schools, that computer literacy should not be taught, or that computer literacy should not be mandatory?

    As far as the first goes, computers are tools. Whether it helps students in later life to know how to use the computer as a tool, the computer can help them as students. Our school's computer lab isn't primarily there so that students can learn to use computers; it's so that students can do schoolwork between classes, type things up, research things on the internet. At the (private) high school i attended last year, written papers were not accepted; all major assignments turned in had to be typed. Whether this is a good thing (reading typed material is easier for teachers than written material) or a bad thing (it allows kids who have a handwriting problem to remain with a handwriting problem), you can decide. However in my opinion computer labs should be provided as a courtesy to the students, so they don't have to go home to type things or check e-mail. (Especially since some of us live far from the school, and in some areas *gasp* schools and libraries are the only computer access the kids have.) The students need to use computers sometimes. The schools can easily provide computers for student use. How can you possibly argue against that? (if you were, i mean..)

    As to the second, if students are interested in something they should definitely be given a chance to pursue that course. Good schools should enable students to grow in the ways they want to grow. (This is why i personally am a big proponent of networked schools giving students administrator powers, and kind of apprenticing them in fixing network problems and helping students and teachers in need. the bill which is ostensibly currently being discussed seems to go directly against that idea.)

    As to the third, perhaps you are right; and i don't quite see why they put computers in elementary schools, to be honest. OK, maybe playing Jumpstart 2ndGrade for 20 minutes will give them some math exersize. But most elementary-level computer classes are overkill, and often are taught by teachers who don't know anything at all about the computers. These computer classes are, of course, pure soulfood to those few kids to whom computers seem magic and 10 PRINT "HELLO WORLD"; 20 GOTO 10 seems at first like the coolest thing in the universe, and they'll just gobble them up; still, for most of the students there, the need for such classes is uncertain. But beyond trying to find a way that the kids who just think "OOH! NIFTY BEEPING BOXES! WANT TO PLAY!" get ample time (if they so desire) to play and grow and gain experience with what the nifty beeping boxes can do (besides games)..

    ..there really are a minimal number of computer literacy things i would say do need to be taught in schools. I'm thinking of typing, which like using a calculator and such is an absolutely necessary life skill in this day and age, regardless of where on the social ladder you end up. Purely mechanical things like typing probably do come more naturally if your brain is exposed to it at an early age. And beyond that, while you may be right in that much elementry school computer education is unneeded, how much of elementary school education *IS* needed? How do you justify the idea that we need to teach our kids how to make a pie graph, but we want to avoid teaching them how to make a spreadsheet in ClarisWorks and tell the computer to make a pie graph from that? (I would say both are things that you need to have done at least once in your life, but whatever.)

    Overall, i'd say that mainly what your arguments seem to work for is the idea that computers used in schools need to be there for a specific set of clearly thought out reasons, not just "Uhh.. computers. There should be computers in the schools." BUT: What *are* you arguing, exactly, and exactly what relevance does it have to the bill this story is about?

  • by Alan (347)
    "dumbest MCSE"

    I know it's not an oxymoron, but something about the above phrase is just not quite right :) Or maybe it's too right. Hard to say :)
  • "Paid for by those who use them"... Here's a hint, they already partially are. It's called bribes.

    Or court fees. You don't object to those, do you? Yet, these are certainly a departure from "publicly funded by all".



    Any form of non-publicly funded laws basically ammount to a bunch of libertarians who hire a private army to enforce their rules.

    Bullshit. Just because I pay the court $xxx to process the papers I'm filing doesn't mean they're any more likely to rule in my favor -- presuming by non-publicly-funded you mean that enforcement costs (as opposed to the costs of those creating the laws) are paid for by those who initiate action.



    Libertarianism is founded on the idea that ownership rights are absolute, and that you don't "initiate" violence. Well, yeah. YOUR ownership rights are absolute, and I should never initiate violence against you.

    Hrm? When has a libertarian ever suggested to you that your ownership rights are less absolute than h{er,is} own, or that {s,}he has the right to initiate violence?



    Should we respect the ownership rights of people whose ancestors stole land by killing the inhabitants? What if I'm a decendent of one of the original owners?

    Incidentally, common law (inhereted by the US from England) resolves issues of this type. A party which has been using land for a long enough time (11 years, as I recall) gains ownership rights. Nothing in my libertarian background compels me to consider this unfair -- so it seems a reasonable means of resolving such a dispute.



    Libertarianism is a philosophy of contradiction, Apply harsh rules to them, and make them pay for the privelage, but don't take any money from me or it's government initiation of violence and I'll come out shooting.

    Utter and complete bullshit. Libertarianism holds that the same rules should apply to everyone; that people should pay their own actions; and (yes) that any entitiy, including the government, which takes without consent is morally in the wrong. The laws which a Libertarian government would enforce would be far fewer and simpler than those on the books today. It would have those initiating legal action paying for the use of the legal system (as opposed to your implications to the contrary) and is opposed to anyone coming out shooting.

  • "... knowingly causes the transmission of a program, information, code, or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally affects or impairs without authorization a computer of an elementary school or secondary school or institution of higher education..."

    I just can't believe that this was even proposed. How do these people stay elected? I really want to say something informative/interesting here, but I'm literally at a complete loss for words.

    And people wonder why the education system is a shambles in the USA. Making it illegal to think outside of the box certainly isn't going to help any.

  • And what part of "individual liberty and personal responsibility" covers hiding behind someone else's e-mail address? Or have you not yet figured out the difference between libertarian and libertine?
  • Nonsense. Rand's novels are some of the most entertaining comic book parodies I've ever read.
  • Change it to something suitably satiric. Any idiot can make up a fake one.

    "No one in their right mind..."

    Here on Slashdot, however...

  • Congratulations on the new e-mail. Not only does it work on the make fun of slashdot level, but there's a nice symmetry to replacing an "o" with a "c" in one place, and a "c" with an "o" in another. It's so obvious once someone else thinks of it, but I was too close to have ever seen the possibility.

    If we keep this up I ain't gonna have no karma left at all. :-)

  • I was speaking of *un*intentional parodies.
  • As someone who was reading Marvel comics way back when the marching society was first created I can only assume that my failure to recognize Ditko's name until now is brain rot due to advancing age and/or exposure to Microsoft products.

    Seriously, though, I only read "Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" a couple of years ago, and was amazed that so much critical acclaim had been garnered by what to me read like old sci-fi and comic books with some half-baked political philosophy mixmastered in.

  • ..that Toricelli is trying to attract any attention that will distract people from his current troubles (ethics violations accusations) [usnews.com]? Why else would he try to re-illegalize something already illegal?
  • A lot of people here joke about how public school is very much like prison. Bills like this will ensure that the joke is no joke.

    Federal legislation like this is even worse in that it might affect not just public schools, but private schools as well. The bill itself refers to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 8801), section 14101, but I'm not aware of how to track that down (Google doesn't come up with much of interest).

    If it refers strictly to public schools, then private institutions (and the home, for homeschoolers) might be the only place where a kid can really be free to learn. This, to me, is ironic and more than a little sad.

    I expect two things to happen if bills like this pass:
    1. Homeschooling will become a lot more popular.
    2. Homeschooling will therefore eventually become illegal, since it's important to the corporations and government that kids be properly indoctrinated.

    I don't know about you guys, but it looks to me like the good 'ol USA is slowly turning into its former Communist enemy, the USSR. Oh, there are certainly distinctions (power in the hands of the corps versus power in the hands of the Communist leaders). But I think they are distinctions without a substantial difference.

    I think this trend will continue. The laws will get worse over time for the individual. I suspect only armed revolt will be enough to change it, and that won't happen because the general population doesn't have sufficient military strength anymore, thanks to expensive (so the general population can't afford them) high-tech weapons that give the government (and thus the corporations, since they are roughly the same thing these days) a millions-to-one advantage in firepower.

    And nobody from the outside would provide military aid to those revolting, since the corporations are multinational and have sufficient influence over every government that matters.

    Reading Slashdot is depressing sometimes, because the problems discussed there are usually things we can't do a damned thing about. I have a large sense of inevitability of the corporate police state.

    Sigh...



    --
  • I am not American but, if your senators are anything like ours, you started to lose him when you wrote the word "kernel" and lost him for good at "(called an "interrupt")".

    Not that he will ever see this. But what are the chances on the Senatorial Clerk For Web-Based Reading Affairs being much better? Remember, the SCFWBRA is probably a very young, very green, too greedy, very just-out-of-college lawyer.

    I think that if you want a good standing chance of being read, understood and even taken into account, you should imagine a world where the only operating system in existence is Windows 98 and the only applications ever written were those in Microsoft Office. There are plenty of examples just as good as the one you used. Even better ones, considering the havoc a kid with VBA and Outlook can wreck.

    And by using expressions like "UNIX box", "ssh" and "analyzing the signal" you just marked yourself as the kind of hacker the lawmaker want to see in jail. Funny world, isn't it?
  • by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomai AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @05:54PM (#2177689) Homepage
    Here's a copy of what I sent to Torricelli and to my own two senators (Torricelli via website, my own senators via snail mail.) Feel free to copy and paste bits, or even the whole damn thing, as long as you put your own name on whatever you send your legislators. (How's that for copyleft?)

    Senator,

    I am writing to express my opposition to the the School Website Protection Act of 2001 (S 1252) and to urge you to vote against this bill.

    This legislation to stop "hackers" in schools is misguided and (frankly speaking) fundamentally ignorant of the technological issues involved. In particular: Sec. 2 (a)(2) makes it a crime to:

    knowingly (cause) the transmission of a program, information, code, or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally affects or impairs without authorization a computer of an elementary school or secondary school or institution of higher education;

    The problem is with the phrase "affects or impairs." This makes ANY unauthorized action on a school computer, whether it is otherwise legal or not, into a criminal act, even if that act doesn't harm the computer in any way. This includes: moving a mouse, sending someone email, or tapping a key on the keyboard. This is because all of these actions cause a command to be transmitted to the kernel of the operating system (called an "interrupt") which causes the kernel to analyze the signal and the operating system to react accordingly. This doesn't slow the computer down by much, but it does slow it down as the processor(s) spend a few clock cycles processing each keystroke or mouse movement.

    So let us take the following example: I attempt to log into a school UNIX box, believing that I have an account on that box (when in fact I do not). I create an ssh connection and type in what I believe are my login and password for that box. After being denied access, three times, I cut the connection. However, that UNIX box has been affected by my actions (the internal state of the machine changed as it decided not to give me access). Undoubtedly I intended to transmit the commands which caused this change, and obviously I was not authorized to do so. Under this bill, I have just committed a federal crime. Whether or not I will be prosecuted now depends on how zealous and paranoid the system administrators are, how ambitious the prosecutor is, how much fear the judge has about "evil hackers," etc.

    Even if we were to remove the word "affects," it would not be enough; since the computer is slowed down ever so slightly by my attempts to log in, I have now "impaired" the computer also. In fact this legislation is overzealous unless the phrase "affects or impairs" is changed to "substantially impairs or substantially alters information stored on." This covers what I think Senator Torricelli trying to legislate against: denial-of-service attacks, virus transmissions, web page defacements, etc.

    I might also point out that there are already several laws on the books which prohibit destruction of school property, in addition to regulations of the school. We do not need a federal law to protect schools; "evil hackers" already are subject to prosecution. If they cross state lines, they may even be subject to prosecution in *two* states. There is no reason for the Federal government to become involved, even on an interstate level.

    I urge you to vote against this bill. It proposes a recklessly overzealous change in policy.

    signature

  • by merlyn (9918) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @10:14PM (#2177690) Homepage Journal
    This law seems very similar to the Oregon Statue that convicted me (for now) of three felonies, detailed at the website about my ongoing legal case [stonehenge.com].

    We have argued that these laws are overbroad and/or vague: that they make illegal ordinary activities, and/or they are indeterminate by a person of reasonable intelligence as to the applicability of the act.

    Overbroad laws lead to "selective prosecution", which is constitutionally disallowed. If every single person who violated ORS 164.377 in Oregon were to be prosecuted (using the most liberal definition of the terms "alter" and "authorize"), the courts would flooded every day. Hence, to even exist, these laws have to be enforced only when there's some other agenda, and that's no longer justice: that's a big stick in the wrong hands.

  • I have a nine year old daughter, I have to make sure that she does not speak her mind in school. and I have to teach her to be quiet and non-descript to avoid expensive legal battles and other horrible things.. Sorry for the following language but.... What the Fuck has happened to this country? I should be teaching my daughter to speak her mind, to challenge authority when she sees that athority is wrong. (teachers hated me, espically when I chime in on a formula with a "umm, no that's wrong", or corrected the english teacher... in a nice way of course :-) I still challenge authority every day. I have linux running in a all NT shop, I stand up at city meetings against stupid ordinances or laws (One city commisioner wanted to outlaw saying anything deemed "bad" against the city council.... she didnt like the fact that after her tantrum that she was in power and we couldnt do anything about it we quietly said "yes mine furer" (with the press present was golden!)) Everyone should challenge what they see as wrong,It's our duty and our right as a species. and the schools are forcing me to teach my daughter to be quiet.... or they'll take her away (a single father with custody? OMG, men are evil!... that's how courts feel... I spent thousands to get custody and they can take it any time they feel like it.) or outspend me in court... or smear me in public or the news... makes you glad to be an american dont it....
  • Actually, classes in computer programming go hand in hand with mathematics. Both subjects develop problem solving and critical thinking skills.

    Our high school last year had a math class that was taught entirely in the computer lab so that the students could use mathematica. Between the ability to deal with high-level concepts quickly that using the computer gave them and a couple of extra periods a week, the students in this class-- despite being juniors-- were able to speed through both the junior and senior years of math to the point where they were all able to capably take the Calculus BC exam at the end of the year.

    Meanwhile, the TI-83 calculators that were *REQUIRED* for my 9-12 math classes were as far as i can gather more powerful machines than the Apple IIcs at my elementary school (if you discount the lack of external hardware add-ons like a color monitor, sound, a floppy drive..). Where do you draw the line on "computers are not beneficial to students", when students are carrying around literal computers to help them in math? Where does "follow the steps in your calculus book to find the areas between these two curves" end and "translate the steps in your calculus book into TI-BASIC and use the program to find the areas between these two curves" begin?
  • I have a hypothesis that anyone who runs for election in a federal or large state election is crazy. (N.B.: For the states, this only applies to state-wide elections, for the federal elections, there is a gradation between representatives and senators.)

    Recent events have tended to confirm this hypothesis. I think that paranoia with delusions of grandeur is the most common psychosis, though certainly schizophrenia of various stripes can also be observed.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • From what I can tell congress people are satires unto themselves. Sure there a few good congress people, but they usually get lost in the crowd of senators trying to draw attention to themselves.

    I really believe that we need some sort of technology awareness course in the school system, so at least people don't take the FUD, spread by journalists, at face value.
  • by Arandir (19206) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @05:41PM (#2177707) Homepage Journal
    I used to cruise as a teenager. Now it's illegal to cruise in front of the very drive-in used in the movie American Grafitti (Merle's Drive-in in Visalia, CA).

    I used to go to the midnight movies to see RHPS and HM, now there is a curfew.

    I used to carry a pocket knife to school. Doing so now will land you in jail.

    When I wasn't feeling well I used to bring aspirin with me to school. Not anymore.
  • Lets not forget the young NJ school boy (13 yr) who committed suicide
    because he was suspended and allegedly threatened, by the his school
    principal, to be incarcerated for breaking into his school's computer
    system.

    The slashdot story here:
    http://slashdot.org/articles/01/05/14/0129236.shtm l [slashdot.org]

    Actual article here:
    http://www.nj.com/news/times/index.ssf?/news/times /05-13-CCQR1VHB.html [nj.com]

    This is a prime example of the effects of sever punishment laden on
    young children. Instead of channeling their blackhat energies into
    something constructive and leaving the punishment in the hands of the
    school system, Torricelli, indirectly, wants to build more prisons so
    that we can now through more young children into them.... which, by
    the way, do a poor job at rehabilitating and sometimes making the
    child even worse when he comes out.

    Being a NJ resident I am definitely going to write Senator Torricelli
    and offer the above story as a prime example of where this type of
    legislation could lead too. You should to.

    ---

    Bigup Brick City

  • OK, so you're saying that instead of having a class about "How to use the Internet approrpiately", we should just get the Secret Service to slap the kid with a felony rap. Holy disproportionate response, Batman!
  • But now, the Legislature wants to make this a FELONY. Hey, guys, a felony rap is a big deal. We're talking about totally ruining a student's life because he sent a rude email. Does this make sense?
  • The irony, of course, is that spammers would end up violating this law by sending email to school computers, thus effecting them.

    --Ben

  • Simple. You expect that if you make over X dollars, your tax on that money is 100%.

    How can someone propose this? Simple. In my eyes, nobody has every gotten mega rich (gates, rockafeller, dupont, etc) without massive abuses of the law, saved in many cases only because they were too rich to prosecute.

    That precedent, when viewed along with the fact that nobody requires billions of dollars to live, makes it pretty simple to say that an upper limit on wealth wouldn't be a bad thing.

  • I'm not to 100k, just over halfway if you only count my 9 to 5.

    But I still still think that limiting income to a certain value isn't a bad thing.

    If I actually thought the system stood a chance of working, I'd vote for it instantly. However, I'm not foolish enough to think that the rich wouldn't find ways around it. It'd just hit a few upper-middle class types who couldn't afford tax dodges. The incredibly-rich would still be incredibly rich, and would continue to get more so.

  • How many people make over 250k (to choose an arbitrary number) without exploiting others?

    It's, IMHO, a fairly small number. For the rest of them, it might cut into their motivation, but it's motivation for them to do things I don't want them doing to begin with.

    I think you've missused a few terms in your post.

    You seem to have equated democracy with capitalism, and both of these as the opposites of communism...

    1) The USA isn't a democracy. It's a representitive democratic republic. That means it's got a constitution which is mostly untouchable, and you don't get to vote, "representatives" do it for you.

    2) Democracy and capitalism are NOT related. In fact, a true democracy would likely be very socialist, because the poor (who vastly outnumber the rich, in ANY system) would vote for more wealth sharing.

    3) The USA is a socialism. All we're arguing is the degree to which it is. All those laws a libertarians wants, which keep the poor from taking the means of production away from the slaveholders^H^Howners are publicly funded. No system except an anarchy can exist without some degree of socialism, by definition. (Unless you think 99.9% of the people wouldn't mind the other 0.1% fencing off all the land and renting them the right to use it...)

  • Libertarianism is a form of socialism where people have money taken from them, in a way that you approve of. And where you don't.

    If you want ANY laws, law enforcement, or judicial services, that's a government. For a government to maintain even a semblance of impartiality, it has to be publicly funded by all.

    "Paid for by those who use them"... Here's a hint, they already partially are. It's called bribes. You expect a system completely funded this way to be unbiased? What court would EVER find against Microsoft on anything if Bill was paying their bills?

    Any form of non-publicly funded laws basically ammount to a bunch of libertarians who hire a private army to enforce their rules.

    It's a nice fantasy world you've got there...

    Libertarianism is founded on the idea that ownership rights are absolute, and that you don't "initiate" violence. Well, yeah. YOUR ownership rights are absolute, and I should never initiate violence against you.

    Should we respect the ownership rights of people whose ancestors stole land by killing the inhabitants? What if I'm a decendent of one of the original owners?

    Libertarianism is a philosophy of contradiction, Apply harsh rules to them, and make them pay for the privelage, but don't take any money from me or it's government initiation of violence and I'll come out shooting.

    Yawn...
  • Dude, I as well as everyone else here appreciates the effort. But what you wrote is waaayyyy to technical. You're gonna lose them at the first mention of "kernel". "UNIX, ssh? what are these crazy hackers talking about?"

    Unfortunately the world is run by C (Not the code, the grade) students. This letter is so far above their heads it might as well be the space shuttle.

    Please consider this constructive critisim.

    Sorry for the atrocious spelling. /. needs a spell check

    Pete
  • Go read "High Tech Heretic" (Second time I've plugged that book this week:) It is totally on spot with what you are saying. I have a ten week old, and I must totally agree.

    In this room alone, I've got three machines. One is a triple boot (Dos 6.22, Windows '95, Linux), one Progeny box, and one 'doze '98 machine. Plans include two networked mp3 players (need to find the money for some lcd screens, and then I'm ready to go) and two networked mame cabinets (one standup, one cocktail). And that's before I put all of the wireless shwag I ganked from work into use.

    What is somebody in the school supposed to teach my kid?

    BTW, in discussions with my wife about when jr. is allowed to hit the net, my response was: as soon as he can figure out how to get root and give himself permission. I've got enough O'Reilly, etc. books that he should be able to figure that out:)

  • While any criminal charges would of course have to go through the courts, punishments within the school system are often unchecked. Imagine this with a zero tolerance punishment system, as is so popular among school districts these days. Kid gets punished, has no chance to contest the charges or explain the circumstances, and the people in charge sometimes have to choose between giving a punishment they know is unjust or facing disciplinary action themselves for breaking policy. Sure you can try the courts, if your parents are rich enough to pay the lawyers.

  • This really sucks! A lot of the teachers when I was in high school / junior high, were really stupid and didn't understand computers.

    I can see a lot of geeky kids who aren't popular with other students or their teachers getting punished ... maybe as bad as what Skylarov is dealing with ... for expressing themselves in a way that many of their dumb teachers don't understand.

  • This reminds me of the first computer misuse act in the UK. One possible reading of it made the changing of the time on a digital watch a crime.
  • by M-2 (41459) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @05:57PM (#2177730) Homepage

    I sent him a letter:

    Senator Torricelli:

    This particular missive could have been filed under 'Civil Rights' or 'Children', but it is centered on technology.

    As a New Jersey resident who works in the technical fields, I find your recent proposal, S.1252, the School Website Protection Act of 2001, to be possibly the single worst-thought-out piece of technology legislation of 2001. If read in a broad manner, it can criminalize such acts as sending email to a teacher.

    Recent acts by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to not allow me to consider the possibility this will be regarded narrowly. Please consult the news concerning their recent activities towards a foreign national, Dmitri Sklyarov, including reports that he has not been allowed to contact his embassy in direct violation of international treaty.

    This strikes me as a self-serving attempt to raise your reputation out of the sewer that you have sunk it into.

    I have voted for the Democratic party in every election since I was able to vote, but acts of this nature force me to not just reconsider this but to actively work towards your defeat in the next election, should be actually serving in Congress instead of serving a term of imprisonment.

    [my name removed from this posting]


    ----
  • by bravehamster (44836) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @04:11PM (#2177731) Homepage Journal
    Now it seems changing all the home pages on the libraries computers to goatse.cx wasn't such a great plan. Excuse me for a moment.

  • This is what happens when politicians who don't know anything about computers start drafting laws that concern computers. How can we expect someone who barely knows how to use email (and like opening email attachments ;o) draft a technical law? If we want things to change, we need to stop bitching about them on slashdot and contacting the people that represent us in government and make our views know. Don't bitch until you do something about it and that doesn't include posting here.
  • by alteridem (46954) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @04:11PM (#2177733) Homepage
    The only real meat in the entire bill is the following vague paragraph;

    knowingly causes the transmission of a program, information, code, or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally affects or impairs without authorization a computer of an elementary school or secondary school or institution of higher education;'.

    This is so vague that doing anything on a school computer could be considered a crime. Back in school, when a CS assignment was due, the entire network would grind to a halt as everyone was compiling their assignments on the server. Now I could have everyone else charged for hindering my work!

  • I'm a highschool student, and because of that law I'd probably be sitting in jail..

    More than one have I had to break school district policy to make our computers even WORK. One time in AP Computer Science none of the compilers would work. So I generated a fix for them and even gave it to the admin who was SUPER pissed at me. Ended up that they used it at our other highschool because it wasnt working there. He talked to the principal about me "disrupting network operations". Luckly the principal knows me and didn't pursue it further. That would be a Level 4 violation, 5 days suspension..no questions asked.

    Another time I used putty to login to my web server during homeroom (we werent doing anything) to both a) restart apache b) download a report for my next hour class. My advisor (total bitch) didn't understand anything I was doing and when she saw the black box popup she thought i was "hacking the grade server" and basically told me to get off before she reports me. I ignored her and again, I was reported. Luckly 5 minutes worth of explination to the principal got me out of it. This law would suck in the hands of people who dont know what they are doing. If my principal didnt trust me I'd probably be expelled by now, and that's breaking policy to HELP the school..damn lawmakers.

  • Except
    1) our teacher was gone due to his wife having a baby, projects were due and this affected our ENTIRE class of 30 students, the admin didnt care at all about our network (he's such an ass that one time, he didn't change the toner in the printer in the lab till it printed only white sheets and the principal yelled at him..we submitted our printed out programs to the teacher and couldnt do it for several weeks)

    2) the paper was due, i couldnt find it, it was either 1) take a 0 2) print it out..what would you choose?
  • borland c++, botched upgrade on the novell server left all of the machines missing 1 critical file...i made a disk that you'd just reboot the computer with the disk in the drive..it would copy the needed files, reboot the system and it would be all set..really quite an easy fix :)
  • I consider Rand a flawed writer, but her understanding of the evils of government was solid. (Not suprising, as she came from the old Soviet Union, where the joke was that everything not prohibited was compulsory.)

    As a friend of mine put it in the '60s:

    Ayn Rand novels have the form of the "Russian Novel". Nobody is quite sure of the PURPOSE of a Russian Novel. But it's clear that is isn't entertainment.

    B-)

  • Steve Ditko's "Mr A" or "The Avenging World".

    B-)
  • I was speaking of *un*intentional parodies.

    Actually these ARE unintentional parodies.

    Ditko was quite impressed by Objectivism, and wrote and drew two comic books with several stories to try to promote it.

    Unfortunately, Ditko was NOT Any Rand and the techniques that worked well for Dr. Strange and Spider Man did NOT work well to get the messages of Objectivism across. It came out as ranting and transparent propaganda. An unintentional parody of Rand in comic book form.
  • Remember kids, this isn't the first time Toricelli has sponsored crappy net.regulation. You know that spam disclaimer that says "THIS IS NOT SPAM ACCORDING TO S.1615"? That was his doing, though thankfully, that one died in committee. Of course, getting tough on those hax0r kids couldn't be a ploy to shift attention away from investigations for ethics violations, could it? Naah. All politicians are forthright and complete in what they say about their actions (Gary Condit, for example).
  • If they can bring to bear enough support to re-instate the law, they in all probability could have brought enough to bear to prevent the law from expiring.

    Secondly, your example is easy to figure out. You stood trial for the crime, and were found guilty. Later, the law ceased to exist. This does not automatically grant you freedom from your imprisonment. Consider somebody caught moonshining before the repeal of Prohibition: once Prohibition was repealed the individual might still have to serve out his sentence.

    However, if you did appeal and won, you're done. Youv'e stood trial once. Double jeopardy attaches - you cannot be tried again.
  • by wowbagger (69688) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @04:40AM (#2177747) Homepage Journal
    Just require every law, other than the Constitution, to have an expiry date of not more than 5 years from passage, with renewal of the law requiring exactly the same level of support passing a new law would (i.e. (%50+1 of the house && 50%+1 of the Senate && (Presidential approval || 2/3 of the house)). This way, bad laws will be on the books for 5 years, then will have to stand against a populous that has seen the harm of the law.

    Right now, it is almost impossible to get a law repealed. This makes it a lot easier.

    It also puts an effective cap on the number of laws that can exist - after a while, Congress spends all of its time renewing existing laws and cannot pass new ones.

    In effect, it brings about evolution for laws: survival of the fittest via competition for scarce resources.
  • Hey, under this law anyone who spams someone at a computer account in a school will get 10 years jail time! I knew there had to be some redeeming feature to it... ;-)

    [TMB]
  • It's always refreshing to see our elected officials so committed to fighting crime [brainerddispatch.com].

    Obviously, some crimes [freerepublic.com] are more important than others... god forbid we allow teens to hack their poorly run high school webserver and post a nasty comment about an unfavored teacher... that'd be criminal!

    Now I'm just waiting for the "Condit Child Intern Protection Act of 2001" to get proposed...

    *scoove*

  • Rimbo's got a good point. There's another "geek's revenge" happening which may correspond to a paranoid (but someone's still after you) perspective: post-colombine zero tolerance rules [jlc.org].

    Oddly enough, while this overreaction (when measured against statistical data showing the actual decline of Colombine-type activities) presumes to prevent youth on youth violence, the actual legislation ends up being a target used to protect the state.

    It's time to set aside the tired "Republicans vs. Democrats" misdirections and recognize that both sides are having great success at eliminating annoying liberties under the guise of protecting us.

    *scoove*
  • by scoove (71173) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @05:10PM (#2177751)
    Somewhere I heard a comment about how liberals have been outstanding in getting anti-gun laws on the books, leaving them unenforced and pointing to how the lack of statistical progress justifies even more laws. Someone asked what would happen if they suddenly decided to enforce all of the laws they snuck in over time.

    Civil libertarians need to watch for the same effect happening elsewhere - as it apparently is with Torricelli pushing this case. If teachers are being threatened (both of my folks are teachers as was my wife - and yes, it does and has happened to them as well), there are existing laws that apply.

    It's as if we have a con game going on between legislators making unchecked power grabs by claiming to enhance people's "safety", totally backed by the stupid electoral marks that readily give away their rights for a false prize.

    I've gotten ISP accounts cancelled, but the person always seems to resurface thanks to netzero Yea, the bad guys sure can be tough to prosecute. But I'm not sure a police state makes things any better, not to mention the cost in sacrificed rights to get there.

    *scoove*
  • > i probably shouldnt /con/con [c7c5ccon5ccon] every computer in the computer lab anymore.

    Does this still work with current versions of Windows? AFAIK, a patch for this has been existing for ages, and even the dumbest MCSE should have applied it by now...

  • > Even better ones, considering the havoc a kid with VBA and Outlook can wreck.

    Yeah, but writing virii is doing actual damages. So you'd only confirm the Senator in his intentions.

    Or are you somehow implying that writing macro virii is ok, whereas (attempting to) login into a Unix box is not?

  • And you think that if they stop teaching computers they'll start teaching kids to think? It's dangerous to them, I was in school before computers were popular, and we weren't taught to think.

    -----------------------

  • In HS my computer teacher decided to be an ass and changed my password. In the spirit of this joke, I promptly cracked the Novel network the computers were running on and changed his, along with fixing mine.

    He figured this out about 2 hrs later and I go called to his office and everything got straightened out all fine.

    It is really scary to think that I would have possibly gone to jail for this.
  • I am the assistant director of technology for a mid-sized school district in suburban Pennsylvania. I am one of three technical people whose job it is to maintain well over a thousand computers, about two thousand accounts on various servers, and the entire infrastructure, which, if we were a for-profit organization, would called an enterprise. That makes my life busy and sometimes difficult. But I do it anyway, because I love the kids and I know they need computer skills.

    You know what chews up and wastes more of my time than anything? Fixing machines that some kid has "hacked" (for lack of a better term). Teachers and students expect to be able to use any computer in the district for their work, and rightly so. When someone intentionally breaks functionality (or does it inadvertantly while trying to break something else), it wastes everyone's time, especially mine. And it erodes everyone's belief that computers belong in schools.

    Why is this legislation (or perhaps some similar but phrased better) needed? Because while most schools have rules about destruction of school property, they have no idea how to deal with "hacking" (again, for lack of a better term).

    If it helps keep my systems running, then I'm fine with it. It's survival for me.
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @04:56PM (#2177762) Homepage Journal
    Legislators take a heavy handed, idiotic and completely incorrect approach in trying to bring some order to the chaos of the net. The average Senator proposing IT legislation is rather like me attempting to perform cardiac bypass surgery. Unlike the average senator, I have the sense not to attempt the surgery.
  • Why should educators get special legislation protecting them from harassment via email?

    Twice, emails with full headers in hand, I've gotten ISP accounts cancelled, but the person always seems to resurface thanks to netzero, juno, freei, etc, using a hotmail or yahoo email address.
    So what will this proposed legislation do to prevent that from happening? Why is this any different than some other email harassment incident not involving an educator? (hint: nothing, and it isn't)
  • by jwales (97533) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @04:32PM (#2177770) Homepage
    If you'd like to comment on this bill, you can use Senator Torricelli's website to comment [senate.gov].

    Of course, this is the same Senator Torricelli who is being investigated for illegal donations to his campaign. One DOJ official called him the "most corrupt politician in America" [foxnews.com]. And that's with some tough competition, I'm sure!

    What a delight this guy is.

  • If I send email spontaneously to my computer science professor asking him something that I forgot to ask in class, I could now be in violation of a federal statute?!?! It is legislation like this that makes me believe more than ever in Cicero's old saying "More laws, less justice."

    Go to Congress.org and email your congresscritters now, especially your senators. Threaten them that you will not vote for them, will campaign for other candidates, will donate to other causes and campaigns.... tell them their getting your vote and money is riding on this bill and that you are watching their every action regarding this bill like Big Brother!

  • Basically this law boils down to "Change the state of the state machine and go to jail."
  • If this bill was around a couple years ago this case [slashdot.org] might be rather more severe.
  • It seems like they feel the need to justify thier jobs by writing new laws that protect us from ourselves. Here's and idea, I'll vote for a politician that will spen his time abolishing bad laws. We need fewer laws, not more.

    "The more laws, the more corrupt the state."
  • Your snail mail address is known. You can get a hate letter by USPS, what is so different on electronic communication that it has to be specially punished and protected against?

    How much of junk a day you throw in near by garbage can next to your mailbox? Just delete the mail, it won't kill you :)

  • that either the open source community will find a way around certain laws or that the cracker community will find ways through them why don't they jsut stop and ask us what they should do.
    I'm thinking perhaps oreilly and the other gangs of conventioneers should start dragging senators (not congressmen their votes don't have the impact that a senators does, the stature) to OSS conventions and dmcs protests and the like and educate them. they won't learn otherwise.
  • "Won't someone please think of the children?"

    "We did, Ma'am. Look, we're sewing little orange jumpsuits, and contracting out their prison terms to a company owned by Disney! Kids love Disney, right?"
    ------------------------------------------------ --
  • And replace it with:

    --snip--

    For example, I think that I have an account on a school computer, when in fact I do not. This could be because there are multiple computers at the school and I simply logged in at the wrong one. If I attempt to log in at this computer it will "affect or impair" its operation by using its resources to deny my login. I am then prosecutable under this law and subject to the whims of the school administration, system admitstrators, and the District Attorney.

    --snip--

    Aside from that I recommend you write your senators; include your address (to prove constituency), and use snail mail! They don't pay nearly as much attention to email, even from constituents.

  • That doesn't violate the other part of the legislation, which says it must affect the computer of the person it is being sent to.

    -= rei =-
  • I feel I ought to point out that this person is not representative of Democrats in general, who generally tend to stand for the beliefs of the ACLU [aclu.org] and individual rights. He will not have his party's support. He may, however, garnish some support from the other side. -= rei =-
  • by Rei (128717)
    "The goal of any republican or democrat".

    That's rather naive, and quite a generalization.

    -= rei =-
  • 1. No. Only if you send an email with a damaging program in it. Makes me wonder about virii, though...

    2. Email is rather ineffective against congressional leaders, and neither are threats. A kind, well-worded letter works best for the amount of time it takes.

    -= rei =-
  • You have a CS course in HS, and you wrote IM clients in it?

    Wow, things must've really changed in the past 5 years... my (good) HS of 3,000 students had one computer course - "computer math". It was all about writing the most basic of mathematics algorithms in gwbasic. I spent the class writing games and a login-emulator to "borrow" passwords, including the teacher's. In my final project, I begged her to let me use C and go beyond the scope of the course. She let me :) I had a graphical, mutli-scene "demo", which had, amongst the scenes, scans of me, modified using particle simulations to be casting spells, and the teacher's password encoded into a stereogram. Ah, that was fun...

    And, oy vey, have I gotten off topic :P

    -= rei =-
  • I think that's really stretching it. Far more than even the most vengeful court could see fit to prosecute as.

    -= rei =-
  • Not true. Those people are the exceptions.
    As a whole, the democrats support the beliefs of groups like the ACLU. There are exceptions to every group.

    -= rei =-
  • 1) The parent post wasn't specifically talking about the Senate. This voids 2, 3, and 4.

    2) I disagree with your other post as well, but perhaps you were speaking in the context of a senator. And, senators vary *extremely* in the amount of constituents they represent. Broad, sweeping statements such as yours are innaccurate. Compare the constituents a senator from California has compared to a senator from Idaho. Its not even close.

    3) Why are you posting AC? Are you afraid of moderation?

    -= rei =-
  • by Rei (128717)
    The implication of the original post was just that - that Republicans and Democrats are only going to do wrong, but 3rd parties will do right. Republicans and Democrats vary greatly within their parties. A good number of them *are* for smaller government. Third-party candidates have no special "I'm going to be better than them" ability - they're human, too - just because they don't have a lot of support doesn't mean that their voting record will be better than any arbitrary Democrat or Republican's.

    1. Not all do. Some try to dodge the issue because they believe in reduced spending.
    2. If 1 occurs, 2 will.
    3. While most republicans support 3, most democrats don't. The "we'll cut your funding" is almost exclusively a republican (but not every case, of course) maneuver.
    4. Silly picture of congress :) Its anything but a gravy train. I'd know, I watched what my uncle went through while he was there, what it did to his health, all he had to sacrifice. Its an every-waking-hour, tedoius, thankless job. The only reason people do it is because they want to fight for what's right. Unfortunately, intelligence isn't a factor to getting in, and thus, many of them are easily manipulated by professional lobbyists into thinking something is "right".

    -= rei =-
  • My uncle. Rep. Ed Pease, (R) Indiana. He didn't run this time because of health problems, but he was in during the previous term.

    Good enough of a reference?

    -= rei =-
  • Whenever he was home (which was seldom), we'd spend a lot of time talking to him. He'd usually have the letters to him read over in advance and the nuts thrown out, but all of the honest, sincere things from his constituents he would read. And whenever he was in town in his office, he'd always take in visits from the locals, no matter how out of it they were ;) (he once had one guy trying to get my uncle's support to help him get his job back - this person came by every single day my uncle was in town, and my uncle saw him every time and told him the same thing, that he couldn't help, until after about a dozen times, he asked the guy not to come back. So, yes, I assumed that most congressmen were like my uncle. You assumed that most were like the senator you worked for. We're both viewing the world through our own points of view; it can't be helped. However, I felt your criticism of my post was unjustly harsh. I was doing my best to encourage people to be politically active, and to use the most personal methods possible when contacting their elected officials instead of an email campaign which has no relevance, using my personal contact with my uncle and all of the many things we'd discussed (I lived in his house while going to college, though I actually had more contact with him at my grandmother's); encouraged people to be polite and express their points clearly. I'd think that you, a senator's staffer, should support such encouragement, and offer only constructive criticism.

    The parent of this thread may have been in error by referring to both the house and senate, but then, your complaints about that should have been to the parent, and not my post. :)

    -= rei =-
  • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @05:23PM (#2177808) Homepage
    You'd actually be surprised how much of a difference writing can make; I'd know, my uncle was in the House. There are a few keys.

    1. Don't use email. Emails aren't trusted in congress even by the most tech-savvy representatives. Use snail mail (c'mon, its not too hard!). Email is just generally compiled into statistics, which aren't trusted very much themselves.

    2. The more personal, the better. The best thing you can do is meet in person with them (and you'd be surprised, they almost always do their best to accomodate their public, though they have incredibly busy schedules). A phone call is probably next best, followed closely by a hand-written letter. A typed letter is still good, though. All of the aforementioned methods of communication will almost certainly be dealing directly with your representative, not a secretary unless they are very busy. Representatives like to stay in touch with their constituency.

    3. The less people care about the issue (especially the representative in question), the more of an effect you'll have.

    -= rei =-
  • As you said "It won't stop stuff from happening, but it will lessen it..", but shooting people when they jaywalk would lessen that too far.

    The intent is not the problem, but the looseness of the wording is. That's like saying I can use "suitable force" to keep robbers away, but not specifying. Maybe I think land mines in my yard are suitable force. Without definition, we cannot determine right or wrong or draw the line for a logical argument.

  • Because Leahy is the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and it's still in committee.
  • People used to do this via telephone before. Unfortunately it is a standard part of being an educateor at a public school.

    Once kids realised the joy of *69 or *53 to return calls or traced them, they tended to stop with the calls. As more students are nailed for doing stupid stuff with computers, then this too will slow.

    One recommendation, like everything else. If you deal with lots of people, have a public account and a private account. That way when you want family e-mail, you don't have to dig through as much spam.

  • by Self Bias Resistor (136938) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @06:37PM (#2177817)

    My school, after losing their T1 connection to the demise of One.Tel, recently installed a high-speed link from Telstra. This I have no problem with. What I have a problem with is that they have also installed the proxy-based filter WebSense (as in doesn't have any) to censor their access.

    This means I can't access my email as the parent website (Subdimension [subdimension.com]) is filtered by WebSense as a "Proxy Avoidance System" because the website has an "anonymizer" feature on the site. I am forced to browsing "forbidden" websites (Slashdot is not one of them, thankfully) through Babelfish.

    Needless to say that if this legislation ever catches on in Australia (let's hope it doesn't), it will make my efforts to "bypass" this "feature" illegal. This legislation obviously doesn't come from a mandate from the people. It's a result of technically ignorant politicians with a so-called moral conscience try to run our lives their way.

    Self Bias Resistor

  • "We need fewer laws, not more."

    Depends on the law. We need fewer laws that restrict our freedoms. What we need is more laws that limit the power of Government and wealthy corporations: campaign finance reform, "sunshine" laws, laws that hold public officials accountable for abuses of power, consumer protection laws, enviornmental protection laws, and so forth.

    The US government derives it's legitimate authority to govern from the Constitution [loc.gov]. The Constitution limits the Federal government's authority to only those powers explictly granted to it (per the 10th amendment [loc.gov]). Unfortunately, Congress frequently oversteps it's Constitutional authority (How many times have they ignored the phrase "Congress shall pass no law..."?). Unfortunately, the Constitution has a bug: any law that Congress passes and the President signs are automatically presumed to be Constitutional until they are challanged in the courts. The president is supposed to Veto any unconstitutional legislation; unfortunately most Presidents seem to shirk this duty in favor of advancing their own political agendas. The whole situation is enought to make you sick.

  • So teachers get the same amount of spam and hate-mail the rest of us get.

    So? Why destroy our educational system over that?
  • Technically, yes, it's still a bill. But we tend to forget that the amount of investment that goes into putting that bill on the floor in the first place usually gives it a good chance of passing.

    ESPECIALLY if it's "for the children."
  • by Rimbo (139781) <rimbosityNO@SPAMsbcglobal.net> on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @04:46PM (#2177821) Homepage Journal
    The "Geek's Revenge" -- being vastly more successful than the bullies who used to beat the geeks up in 7th grade gym class -- is about to be avenged upon by the lawyers and politicians. They never liked the brains or the bullies. It was easy to send the bullies to jail, but now they're waging war against us.

    Okay, that's a bit on the paranoid side, but realistically now that they know they can push us around, having already passed and enforced the DMCA, what'll stop them from passing this law? It reminds me of a quote from the last year's political election. A pollster for one of the two big parties mentioned that he'd discovered that women universally respond positively to the phrase, "For the children," regardless of context. This law's already signed, sealed, and delivered. Forget free speech, forget rights, get ready to be ass-rammed by some guy named Guido for the next ten years.

    And usually, by the time a law like this is even announced, the decisions have already mostly been made. "Write your Congressman!" is a naive call to action. What we need are pre-emptive measures to heavily favor our cause. What we should be sponsoring is not ex post facto protests and lawsuits, but making sure that geek-friendly laws are made from the beginning.

    The EFF is doing great work, but what we really need is not a legal organization, but a lobbying organization.
  • Slightly off topic, I am on the Rogers @home network ... I nmapped a friends computer, also on Rogers @home.. Shortly after, my modem went down. After days on the tech support line (I didn't tell them about the nmap) I finally got my account fixed -- they had to reset it (they left out the details of what needed to be done), but this was after refreshing my DHCP lease, checking the routers, etc. Is it possible Rogers has installed something which detects port scanning and disables the cuplrits account? I was actually doing it on my friends request, since he was experimenting with his firewall, but I havn't tried it since.

    In any case, any use of nmap is deemed to be a hostile activity, and make sure you have permission of a machines owner before using it on their machine.

    ---

  • Some lawmakers are stupid. I testified before the Texas Senate on a bill to require censorware [censorware.net] be provided with each computer sold in Texas. Texas already has a law that requires ISPs to have links to censorware. The author of the bill introduced this because he received porn spam on his AOL account. He said that it was to difficult to download the censorware over the internet for anybody over 30. He also claimed that it cost only $1 or $2 for a manufacturer to provide censorware with each computer.

  • This law will never go anywhere. Most politicians aren't as stupid as the guy who wrote this bill, and you'll find that out in a hurry-- it won't even get any floor time. Have you seen what it translates to? Here goes:

    "Whoever knowingly causes the transmission of a program, information, code, or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally affects or impairs without authorization a computer of an elementary school or secondary school or institution of higher education; [shall be punished by] ) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than..."

    It goes on for a bit, title 18 section 1030 is available at http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/1030.text.ht ml. Basically, this law means that if you send an unauthorized e-mail that passes through a school system, you could get 1-10 years (5 years for spammers-- hmm, that's actually kind of neat!). The author of this bill could get 1 year just for writing to thank a school for supporting his bill.

    It's pretty obvious that this bill wouldn't stand up to the simplest constitutional challenge. It's also pretty obvious that it'll never see the light of day-- even the worst bills that get passed make more sense than this. What's possible is that this will get amended to not be so mind-numbingly stupid, and will say something like "threatens or harasses", although a lot of that is already in 1030.

    So, can we learn anything useful from this debacle? Only one thing: Bob Toricelli is duller than a bag of hammers.
  • by Once&FutureRocketman (148585) <otvk4o702@sneakemai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @05:07PM (#2177827) Homepage
    It's the George Orwell Principle: Pass so many laws that everyone, everywhere is a lawbreaker no matter what they do. Then you can arrest whoever you want to when it is convenient to do so.

    (OK, I don't know if he was the one who said this first, but I first encountered this notion, stated more or less this way, in 1984.)

  • by ivan37 (149147) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @04:09PM (#2177828)
    Hack a corporation's computer with e-commerce credit card information: 5 years in jail
    Hack a school's website with a weekly calendar: 10 years in jail
    Look on the 16 year-old's face when the Secret Service are knocking on the door: Priceless
  • by demo9orgon (156675) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @04:34PM (#2177835) Homepage
    The more I have to deal with the assholes at the k12 level, the more I look forward to having to deal with my kids getting suspension for doing common things which are beyond the teachers/staff to understand.

    I'd like to see school districts come up with a wavier to keep my kids off their precious computers. I'd sign it in a heartbeat. So should any other person who understands the k12 computer situation.

    I want my kids to be something more than monkeys pushing buttons (yep, k12 level computing is exactly that, or your kid's suspended). I'd rather have them playing music, doing art, or learning how to do math.

    I have a multi-node network at home with all sorts of boxen for them to play/learn on. WTF does any kid in k12 need a computer for anyway? Teachers don't understand them. Computers are wasted in the classroom. We would all be better off if computers were there for just the memo-fetishists and poledit-fetishists to enjoy.

  • by b0r1s (170449) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @04:13PM (#2177845) Homepage
    Being a son of two high school teachers, I have to appreciate this clause in the law. Numerous times in the past year, one or both of my teachers has received either blatant threats, hate mail, or nuisance emails to their personal email accounts, after giving them out as a way to encourage kids to ask for help when stuck on homework. Sometimes, it's been pretty easy to trace back (ie: people using their ISP email accounts), occasionally I've gone through the headers to figure out the originating IP, and then contacted the ISP to find the offender. It typically isnt hard to outsmart a high school student.

    The end result, though, is depressing. Teachers trying to help decent, hardworking students by offering their email addresses are harassed viciously, and are offered no more defense than any person against everyday SPAM, unless there is a blatant threat.

    Twice, emails with full headers in hand, I've gotten ISP accounts cancelled, but the person always seems to resurface thanks to netzero, juno, freei, etc, using a hotmail or yahoo email address. Police can/will/should do nothing unless there is a threat of harm, but it's a shame. I hope this law becomes widespread, well known, and strengthened by numerous precedents to the point that this kind of abuse declines substantially. Educators should not need to take the abuse they are often faced with. These kind of acts, hopefully, will keep the educators who truly care (they're the ones releasing their email addresses in the first places, right?) from taking abuse from students who dont, so that they can concentrate on teaching the students who want to make the best of the sad situation that is our public school system.
  • by MWoody (222806) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @04:06PM (#2177892)
    I can't count the number of times recently that I've heard myself mutter, "If that was illegal when I was a kid, I'd be in jail now..." Are we aiming for our entire @#$@# nation to spend at least some time in the slammer, or what?
    ---
  • by Dr. Awktagon (233360) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @04:24PM (#2177899) Homepage

    This would've made my high-school Apple basic program a crime, eh?

    10 CLEAR
    20 X = INT(24*RND(1))+1
    30 VTAB X
    40 PRINT "__________PLEASE ADJUST VERTICAL HOLD__________"
    50 GOTO 10

    Ah it was such pleasure watching from a distance as the librarian tried to get the image to stabilize...and gosh how did the computer know???

    So I will join the chorus and say "Thank goodness I'm out of school, because I would probably be in jail now!" (Not for that BASIC program particularly. But then again who knows? Having to adjust the monitor caused the librarian all sorts of harm and damages and theft of intellectual property and loss of wages).

  • by ConsumedByTV (243497) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @04:18PM (#2177906) Homepage
    I would agree with that statement about Universitys but I was thrown off the main shell server because I compiled nmap. Aparently that means that I was trying to "hack" even though I just really wanted to see what ports were open on the server that i use. People are stupid at all levels. This is including me for thinking it would be alright.


    The Lottery:
  • by J'raxis (248192) on Wednesday August 01, 2001 @05:32PM (#2177907) Homepage
    I thought I recognized this guy's name. It's not the first time we've heard from this guy. A while ago, Torricelli was working on spam legislation [wired.com] that effectively made spamming legal.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @03:29AM (#2177928) Homepage
    • Here's and idea, I'll vote for a politician that will spen his time abolishing bad laws. We need fewer laws, not more

    Then vote Libertarian Party [lp.org], doofus.

    Alternatively, let's throw all of our politicos into one big room without access to food, water, toilet facilities, phones, net access or law books and get them to write down all the laws that they can remember (50% of them are members of the American Bar Association, they should be up to the job). When the last of them passes out, we hand over their rabid scribblings to the Supreme Court judges and let them vet the whole damn lot (without We, the People having to pay money to argue cases all the way up to that court one at a time). Then we're done. That's the new legal system.

Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future. - Niels Bohr

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