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House OKs Life Sentences For Hackers 972

Posted by chrisd
from the but-still-okay-to-rip-off-the-stock-market dept.
ByteHog writes "The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Monday to create a new punishment of life imprisonment for malicious computer hackers. The article on MSNBC also mentions that police can conduct internet or telephone eavesdropping without first obtaining a court order. Says a Rep from Texas: 'A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bullet or a bomb.'" Other articles can be found here and the text of the bill is available.
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House OKs Life Sentences For Hackers

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  • by OpCode42 (253084) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:14AM (#3892728) Homepage
    Well, if hacking actually resulted in deaths, a life sentence would be applicable. Has it?

    • by CountBrass (590228) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:20AM (#3892760)
      That would sensibly be covered by existing murder and man-slaughter laws. The internet and computers are not some how "special" and "different" - they should and must be subject to the same laws as every other human endeavour. No need for endless special legislation - well except for the senator from disney and his cronies to promote their pay-master's interests.
      • Except (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wiredog (43288) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:32AM (#3892822) Journal
        That murder is usually a State, not Federal, matter. In the case of a hacker, who may be operating across State lines, it is proper for the Federal Government to get involved.
      • by Grax (529699) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:36AM (#3892844) Homepage
        It is illegal to kill someone. It is also illegal to kill someone because of their race or sexuality. And now it is illegal to kill someone using a computer. Glad we got this worked out.
      • Once again America doesn't need MORE laws just to apply the existing ones judiciously.

        In all seriousness, could some one explain to me why we need to crack down on "Cyber Terrorists"? I thought it was the regular, box-cutter-weilding, gun-toting, bomb-making kind that were giving us problems lately. Shouldn't the government be trying to stream line its paperwork processes and attempting to fix internal security problems?

        Shouldn't we be working harder to fix existing [nando.net] government agencies that don't work as intended instead of making new ones?
      • That would sensibly be covered by existing murder and man-slaughter laws.

        The term to cover this kind of legislation is "supercriminalisation". Such laws are redundant before they are even passed. Typically done to make politicans appear to be "doing something", especially if there is a lobby group needing to be appeased.
        You could also look at it as a way of politicans avoiding doing their jobs whilst appearing to do so.
      • im from texas and what amazes me is the fact the administration is pushing this bill to make 'computer crimes' as you say, "special" and "different". when james byrd was dragged to death in jasper, tx several years ago when bush was govenor, bush would not pass a hate crimes bill b/c he said all crimes are hate. i dont understand! this man was flat out murdered b/c of pure hatred and he wouldnt make a hate crimes bill. there isnt one computer crime that matches that for me, and yet he's pushing a computer crimes bill. argh, the injustices of this cruel, cruel world.
    • by AVee (557523) <slashdotNO@SPAMavee.org> on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:31AM (#3892817) Homepage
      Well, if hacking actually resulted in deaths, a life sentence would be applicable.

      Yes, i agree, but not just for the hacker. I would at least take a serious look at the people responsible for the system. If some kids kicks agains the wall of a building and it collapses, who's to blame?

      Has it?

      Not that i know of, but i might happen. I've heard news somewhere about warnings for terrorist attacks through the internet, things like possible attacks to nuclear power plants. Personally i think anyone that build a system to control a nuclear power plant and connects it to the internet should get a life sentence. If a hack causes death the hacker can never be the only one to blame IMHO.
      • by Saltine Cracker (116414) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @08:23AM (#3893040) Journal
        If a hack causes death the hacker can never be the only one to blame IMHO.

        Maybe so, but read some of L0pht's papers about the widely insecure remote access to power grids, city works (traffic controls, etc.), and other such things which are probably very hackable and not connected to the internet.

        I think the premiss of this law is probably correct. If you commit a robbery and someone gets killed during the commision of that crime the law regarding that crime says you may be held accountable for that death. I don't think this law is much different.

        If I hack something like a city's traffic control system and start playing around, only to leave the busiest intersections lights green in both directions, then unbeknownst to me some Soccer mom and her 5 kids get killed by a 18 wheeler driving through said intersection, I'm the one liable for their deaths. The people responsible for maintaining the traffic system may also be liable under either criminal or civil matter for neglegence or something like that, but they can't be held responsible for my actions. Just like, going back to the robbery, if that store owner pulls his gun and shoots and me but hits a customer, I'm still on the hook for the customer's death.

        I am not a lawyer, nor a gynocologist, but I play both in my back shed.
        • Maybe so, but read some of L0pht's papers about the widely insecure remote access to power grids, city works (traffic controls, etc.), and other such things which are probably very hackable and not connected to the internet.

          I must be out of the loop: the L0pht never released any white papers on infrastructure insecurity. They merely, at the behest of the NIPC, testified before Congress something to the effect of "if we wanted to, we could hack the nation inside of an hour" or some ridiculous hyperbole like that. They're good hackers and all, but the sane mind looks to the reasons why they said what they did without any proof as they'd be wont to provide in any other situation: the almighty buck. The FBI got its "cybercrimes" division and the L0pht merged with @Stake, who now performs federal contract work for... guess who?
          Judges take intent into consideration. If I steal a car and intentionally run someone down, it will be treated differently than if I steal a car and accidentally hit someone; these laws handcuff the human element, turning judges from arbiters of law into life-sentence machines.
      • If some kids kicks agains the wall of a building and it collapses, who's to blame?

        This is a very bad analogy. That is like saying "Honestly, I just pinged that company's website, and all of a sudden I was arrested." I really hate it when people paint the picture of the cracker (not hacker) as some innocent kid who didn't realize what he was doing. This law isn't for the kid who defaces a website, it is for something really friggin serious. And now you are suggesting that the owners of the system be punished too? What if someone roots your system, and then hacks into some bank, then gets caught? Should you be held responsible, or the bank? Gee, how about the person who knowingly did something illegal? That is a novel idea.

        The obvious downside of this law is that it will be used when the situation isn't that serious. It would have to be a hack that endangered lives. If it were used against someone who just caused monetary damage, then it would be a sad day. After all, do you think the Enron and Andersen boys at the top are going to be spending life in prison? Hell, John Walker Lindh is only expeced to get 20 years.

      • I've heard news somewhere about warnings for terrorist attacks through the internet, things like possible attacks to nuclear power plants.

        My mother used to work for GPU Nuclear, the company that owned Three Mile Island and Oyster Creek among other nuclear reactors. Their security, even way before the whole terrorist threat being brought to the foreground, was practically unbreakable. Nuclear reactors are considered super-high risk by the government - try getting a job there, let alone approaching one. They do extensive background checks through the FBI, and the perimeter is protected by 12-foot high barbed-wire fences and armed guards with sub machine guns and orders to shoot on sight.

        The internet services and the computer systems that control the reactors aren't physically connected. That's the easiest way to keep it secure, right? Offer no access.

        Pop quiz: do you know one of the major reasons Three Miles Island came so close to a meltdown? their security was too tight. They didn't want to risk anyone getting any major telephony access to the site, so there was only one phone line leading to the outside world. Naturally, it was rather tied up with people calling their families so reenforcements were substantially delayed.

        Disclaimer: IANANE (I Am Not A Nuclear Engineer) but I grew up with someone in the business - my mom was THERE when TMI almost melted.

        Triv
    • I don't believe this is accurate. It might be applicable if it was determined that murder was involved...however, then the killing through the use of computers would have to be intentional and premeditated. If I deliberately assassinate President Bush by killing Air Force One's navigational computer, then I could, under traditional law, get a life sentence.

      Most stuff now resulting in death might get you manslaughter. It's just not intentional to cause loss of life.
    • It is entirely possible that it could cause a death but we (and maybe the hacker) would never know it.

      Examples:

      -Hacker breaks into medical records. Changes some patient info. Patient receives medicine they are allergic to and dies.

      -Hacker breaks into a computer controlling traffic lights. Causes a system failure and a traffic accident occurs killing some people.

      -Hacker breaks into a weapons manufacturer's recipe computer and changes some chemical mixture information. Wrong amounts get mixed and an explosion occurs killing those mixing.

      It is possible scenarios like these have played out and it never got reported because no one was aware of the intrusion.
    • by operagost (62405) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @08:50AM (#3893207) Homepage Journal
      Check out section 106 of the bill:
      `(5) if the offender knowingly causes or attempts to cause death or serious bodily injury in a violation of subsection (a)(5)(A)(i), a fine under this title, imprisonment for any term of years or for life, or both.'.
      They're not planning on putting you away for life by renaming index.html here. Bringing down the 911 phone system, well that is another matter.
  • by JSmooth (325583)
    Welcome to the new Millenia. In the 1950s we had the "Red Scare" now we have the hacker scare. When the first execution occurs for hacking won't that be something?

    Our society may need technology to function but this dependance is going to extremes.

    And, of course, what happens to the programmers? If I design a faulty home security system I get sued don't I??

    Hmm...

    Are you now or have you ever been a hacker?
    • by Rohan427 (521859) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @08:34AM (#3893104)
      Yes, I am a hacker, and I always have been. Damn near every computer, software, electronics, physics, and every other type engineer and scientist worth his/her salt is and always will be. I guess now we'll all be doing it underground.

      Security professionals, you know, the guys who catch and provide evidence to prosecute the "malicious" hackers, are themselves hackers (BTW, I _AM_ a security professional - or rather I was before this fucked up bill came about.)

      So, who decides who is malicious and who isn't? I know the answer, no need to tell me. The ones who write the flawed security software. The so called "experts in the field". Well, if laws like this continue to take hold, and dumb asses who have no idea what technology is or how to deal with it are left to determine who is a "malicious hacker" and who isn't, then the REAL professionals will dissappear. The only secure systems will be those that belong to the real cyber-criminals, because they will be the only ones who know enough about the systems to secure them.

      Those of us who really do care about security will be, and have been, labeled "malicious hackers" by those that write the faulty software we discover. A bill such as this, and others that will probably follow, only server to give the irresponsible corporate buttheads that release such garbage a method to cover their asses when a hole is found. How many people will want to run the risk of testing systems for security now?

      Need I mention eavesdropping is AGAINST THE DAMNED LAW no matter what the DoJ and the rest of government may say about it? Anyone ever heard of "due process"? Anyone know what that means? It means they have to go to court, have some evidence against you, by "oth or affermation", and have a judge give them the RIGHT to search ANY of your property or listen to any of your data transfers, no matter what form those transfers are in. But that's OK, because in such a terrifying society as ours, where there's a terrorist on every corner, it's nice to know Big Brother is watching, isn't it?

      I've warned people for a LONG time about this sort of crap. I was banned from LKML for such warnings (from which I received many a thank you) and how they could destroy Linux and other free and Open Source software. With the inaction of the populous in general, the fact that most people dont' pay attention, are naive about what's going on and how it will effect them, and the lack of voter participation, is this type of thing any great surprise?

      Does anyone really expect a politician to understand the first thing about technology let alone how to deal with it? Does anyone really expect the corporate experts to lead them down the right path, when it's the corporations those experts represent that will lose if government were to take that path?

      The ONLY way laws regarding technology will every be made that actually help the industry, and more importantly the general populous, is if those that sit around bitching about it actually put some actions where their mouths are.

      Welcome to the United Corporations of America.

      (Now what kind of disclaimer do I need to place here to keep some rotten corporate gorilla from trying to sue me for voicing my opinion in a supposedly FREE country? Whatever it is, consider it posted right damn here!)

      I suppose "hackers" will get tossed in the brig without an attorney too? Does anyone aside from the true hackers out there _REALLY_ know WTF a hacker is? It certainly isn't what you hear about in political circles and on the damn news.

      Paul G. "I don't do Windows" Allen
      (and if you doubt that I am, I'll prove it!)
  • by BadmanX (30579) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:14AM (#3892731) Homepage
    Build your own computer? You're a terrorist.
    Run an "unsecured" operating system? You're a terrorist.
    Share files? Terrorist.
    Complain about corporate abuse? Terrorist.
    Demand your Fair Use rights? Terrorist.
    Fail to consume your fair share? Terrorist.

    In 100 years, when they are picking over the ashes of our civilization wondering what went wrong, this will be the turning point day they decide on...the day when you could get LIFE in PRISON for using a computer.
    • the day when you could get LIFE in PRISON for using a computer

      ... To commit certain crimes. In other words, Its not the fact that you are using the computer, but how you use it.

      Using a(licensed) firearm to shoot soda cans off a fence != crime

      Using a(licensed) firearm to shoot someone in the face == crime

      Heated hyperbole will not help to advance your cause; only a reasoned consideration of the issues will.
      I now jump off my soapbox.

      • Close, but not accurate.

        Using a(licensed) firearm to shoot soda cans off a fence != crime
        Actually, if you're in a densely populated area then it can be considered a crime. (Reckless endangerment.)

        Using a(licensed) firearm to shoot someone in the face == crime
        If the person in question has invaded your home and you are in reasonable fear for your life then it's self defense.

        So, like all things (including the own a computer and go to jail for life statement) need to be clarified. The real issue is why this needs "new" laws. There are currently laws on the books for terrorist acts. There are laws for assault and murder as well. Just because the "weapon" is different shouldn't change anything.

        The part of the bill that should be of the most concern is the provisions that cover something like "hot pursuit" where ISP's are allowed to monitor and turn over information based on a judgement call.
        • Just because the "weapon" is different shouldn't change anything.

          Recall that recently, certain charges were dropped against Massoui because a commercial airliner was not specifically mentioned as a 'means of transportation' in the applicable federal law. It's not a waste of ink to spell out the new versions of old crimes that can be committed with new technology.
    • Define Terrorism (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anarchofascist (4820) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:29AM (#3892806) Homepage Journal
      Build your own computer? You're a terrorist.
      Run an "unsecured" operating system? You're a terrorist.
      Share files? Terrorist.
      Complain about corporate abuse? Terrorist.
      Demand your Fair Use rights? Terrorist.
      Fail to consume your fair share? Terrorist.


      Shooting people to pursue political gain? Not sure. Depends.
      Holding a population hostage via threats of violence? Depends who does it.
    • by Chilles (79797) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:30AM (#3892807)
      English is not my native language so sometimes when I don't know a word I have to guess it's meaning from the context. The last year or so I have come to the following:

      Terrorist: used by people to indicate other people that say or do things that the first group of people doesn't approve of, doesn't understand or isn't receiving any money for.
      War on terrorism: The act of violating every basic human right of terrorists.
      Peace: A situation where all terrorists are either dead or in prison.

      From your post I see my self guessed definitions are pretty close to the real meaning of those words. (and boy will the world be a quiet place when the American government finally decides there's peace)
      • Most Americans have reached pretty much the same conclusion. The "War on Terror" was popular at first, but after the Taleban fell and Bush started using it as an excuse to do whatever the hell he felt like, a lot of people (myself included) are getting more than a little frusterated with him.

        God, I wish McCain was in the White House instead of this idiot.
      • Slight correction (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LittleGuy (267282)
        Nicely put. But I'll add:

        Peace: A situation where there hasn't been any overt terrorist activities, and the government decides it cannot afford to sustain the high-level of alert because of budget deficits and the coming elections.
      • Terrification (Score:5, Interesting)

        by wytcld (179112) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @01:24PM (#3895513) Homepage
        People become terrorists because they are terrified. A Muslim whose education at a madrasas has consisted totally of reading the Koran for its power, is terrified by the powers we in the West gain from our books and films and (relatively) free communnications, so, terrified, they seek to return the terror to what they see as its source.

        When I was training typical office workers in using computers back in the 80s, the most difficult hurdle was that most of them were terrified that the computer was sentient enough to become offended if they did something 'stupid' and intentionally punish them for their mistakes. Just as Muslims see a god in their book, even 'modern' Americans tend to see gods in their boxes - and both are terrified that those gods will punish them if they stray, even in ignorance, from their presumed commandments.

        And now the Congress is terrified of computer networks, and seeks to terrorize those who appear to be favored by special powers by the new network gods, who must be made fearful of Congress's powers lest they reach out through the networks to strike them dead.

        Lesson: Anyone whose power source is different from your own is guilty of witchcraft (whether that source is more or less advanced than yours makes little difference - thus 'modern' medicine derides 'witch doctors'). Since that witchcraft terrorizes you, you must hold the witches in check by terrorizing them in return. This is all simple anthropology.

        Sometimes the witches (fundamentalist Muslims) are trying to kill you; sometimes they (sysadmins) aren't. The key to maximizing peace is overpowering the first group either with new culture or, if that fails, with containment or death; and overpowering your own paranoia regarding the second group, by whatever means are available. The tricky part comes if our own Congress continues towards behavior equivalent to that of fundamentalist Muslims. Our first course should be to ease their paranoia.
        ___
    • by Scratch-O-Matic (245992) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @08:00AM (#3892935)
      here is the focal point of this discussion:

      `(B) if the offender knowingly or recklessly causes or attempts to cause death from conduct in violation of subsection (a)(5)(A)(i), a fine under this title or imprisonment for any term of years or for life, or both.'. (my bold)

      You may think of 'hacking' as an act in and of itself. This bill deals with various crimes that a 'hacker' might perform, using hacking as a tool or a means.

      For additional perspective, refer to these acts mentioned in the bill:

      (F) whether the offense involved a computer used by the government in furtherance of national defense, national security, or the administration of justice;
      (G) whether the violation was intended to or had the effect of significantly interfering with or disrupting a critical infrastructure; and
      (H) whether the violation was intended to or had the effect of creating a threat to public health or safety, or injury to any person;...


      Examples of acts that are contemplated here: disabling a national defense warning system; flooding a city by opening the spillways on a dam; disabling the air traffic control system in a busy metropolitan area.

      And for those who will quickly argue that these systems should not be connected to the Internet, note that the bill does not limit these acts of 'hacking' to access from the Internet. Hacking can also include access from inside a company or facility, dialup access to a piece of critical equipment, or even some acts of 'social engineering.'

      These are not new criminalizations of innocent acts. They are simply expansions of existing principles to include new technology and means of hurting people and property.

      you could get LIFE in PRISON for using a computer.

      That's like complaining that you could get LIFE in PRISON for using a screw driver. If you use that screw driver to tighten screws, you're fine. If you stick it in someone's eye and wiggle it around, you may be facing LIFE in PRISON for the MURDER that you committed with your SCREW DRIVER.

      • (G) whether the violation was intended to or had the effect of significantly interfering with or disrupting a critical infrastructure; and
        (H) whether the violation was intended to or had the effect of creating a threat to public health or safety, or injury to any person;...


        So if Joe sends an email to Jane and for some reason that email trigger some weird bugs that somehow cause some shitty system to go down and that system going down cause G or H then you can get life imprisonment for sending an email?

        Ok that exemple is a bit extreme, but still, given how everthing is/can be interconnected through computers who knows how much unintended effects can result from some interraction with buggy software.
      • My question is, why do we need a new law in the first place? Last time I checked all those things you mentioned are already illegal. My worry is someone will get life for doing something that doesn't "threaten" or whatever a human life. Well, it doesn't really matter anyways. It's not like he'll get a trail under our military tribunal system anyways.
      • That's like complaining that you could get LIFE in PRISON for using a screw driver. If you use that screw driver to tighten screws, you're fine. If you stick it in someone's eye and wiggle it around, you may be facing LIFE in PRISON for the MURDER that you committed with your SCREW DRIVER.

        Good point. We need a new screwdriver law.

    • And thanks to the USTASI [smh.com.au], you will be caught more redily. Everyone should study the original STASI of East Germany, to see its effects on that society, the way that people interacted with each other under it, and how brother could not trust brother in that aweful informant system.

      Of course, it will be even worse when someone is reporting what they think is a malicious hacker, because computer illiteracy is as widespread as reading and writing illiteracy was in the Medireview days.
    • Consider this:

      John Walker Lindh is A MEMBER OF THE TALIBAN, and is charged as a traitor to the United States, is only receiving 20 years in jail. Not only that, but he will probably get parole in less than 10 years.

      However, under this new bill, someone like Kevin Mitnick would see life in prison.
      • by PhilHibbs (4537) <snarks@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @08:21AM (#3893034) Homepage Journal
        John Walker Lindh is A MEMBER OF THE TALIBAN, and is charged as a traitor to the United States, is only receiving 20 years in jail.
        Why is being a member of a political party in a foreign country a crime? The US were never at war with the Taleban until a group that operated out of their country committed the 911 atrocities. Even then, the Taleban offered to extradite OBL if the US could offer any evidence that he was involved. GWB declined, so they said get stuffed, quite reasonably IMO. I really don't understand why affiliation with the government that the US helped to establish is suddenly treason.
  • I don't see how (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Morgahastu (522162)
    hacking into something deserves a life sentence. When was information ever as important as a life? Maybe they are thinking ahead into the future when maybe someone could hack into a plane and make it crash, but surely that criminal wouldn't be a hacker, more like a murderer, or a sabateur. People who kill people sometimes don't even get life sentences, people who hide 40 billion dollars in expenses don't get life sentences. Why should people who access information get it?
  • omfg- (Score:5, Funny)

    by rchatterjee (211000) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:18AM (#3892752) Homepage
    Just to illustrate the lack of knowledge our legislators have:

    Says a Rep from Texas: 'A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bullet or a bomb.'


    Show me one hacker who uses a mouse to hack, even second rate wannabe script kiddies use shell prompts.
    • Re:omfg- (Score:3, Funny)

      Show me one hacker who uses a mouse to hack, even second rate wannabe script kiddies use shell prompts.
      Maybe the Taxas rep. was referring to infected laboratory test creatures?

      I know it can't be a computer mouse, because they're too fragile to use as weapons. Their plastic cases crack as soon as you whomp somebody with them. And you can't easily eletrecute people with them, either.
  • by Mattygfunk (517948) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:18AM (#3892753) Homepage
    Until we secure our cyber infrastructure, a few keystrokes and an Internet connection is all one needs to disable the economy and endanger lives

    Oh very nice we can now punish people who commit murder through electronic means, except we can already do this with existing murder laws.

    Economy and endanger lives eh? I guess were clear which one is the most important in the eyes of the government by the order those were placed in.

    We're doing this to stop terrorism? Oh ok that explains it.

  • Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MiTEG (234467) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:20AM (#3892757) Homepage Journal
    So if I train my dog so it kills someone, I'll get a cushy 4 years in jail [sfgate.com], but if I train my computer so it causes only fiduciary damages, I can get life in prison? That seems screwy to me.
  • Wow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by warmcat (3545) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:20AM (#3892761)
    I hope none of the 1 million Governement Snoops [washingtontimes.com] I read about via Drudge don't turn you y4nk33 haxxors in. (What happened to fighting the good fight with 'Hacker' vs 'Cracker', anyway?) Actually, its probably reasonable, if someone deliberately set out to kill people by screwing with Air Traffic Control or somethings. But there's a cold wind blowing from the hill.
  • by GMontag451 (230904) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:21AM (#3892764) Homepage
    If you read the text of the bill, life sentences are only allowed if the offender knowingly causes or attempts to cause death or serious bodily injury.

    In other words, they are authorizing life sentences for attempted murder through hacking, which I think is very reasonable. Attempted murder can already get you a life sentence, I don't see why it should be any different if you attempt it through a computer than if you attempt it through any other means.
    • But I thought murder and attemped murder were already against the law and punishable by (theoretically) long prison terms, life prison terms and, in some states, death (at least in the case of accomplished rather than attempted murder).

      Oh, looks like they are, just as you said. So why do we need a new law? Does it make a difference what tools are used? It can't see how it should.

    • by Bartmoss (16109) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:33AM (#3892831) Homepage Journal
      Then why is a new law needed?
      • "Then why is a new law needed?"

        Because it's an election year, and Joe Congressman needs the law to show the voters he's tough on terrorist hackers.

      • Then why is a new law needed?

        Well, logically there wouldn't need to be a new law. But you are forgetting, lawyers will wiggle through any available hole. It could be argued that you can't actually murder someone through a computer because it isn't quite a tangible thing. The new law is probably just to plug that hole.

    • It's "needed" so that Joe Congressman can claim he's "doing something" about a "problem" that Joe Constituent has heard Katie Couric say is "pretty bad".

      Not unlike hate crime laws, which legislate additional penalties for already criminal acts based on the victim's membership in some group and the criminal's thoughts.

      Assaulting me: 1 year.
      Assaulting me because I'm Zoroastrian: 5 years.
      Assaulting me by hitting me over the head with a computer: 10 years.

      Passing feel-good laws that make a patchwork of justice: priceless!
    • by Yohahn (8680) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @08:43AM (#3893160) Homepage
      Didn't the leaders of Enron and Worldcom ruin lifes?
      If there is a life sentence for computer hacking why isn't there one for mallicious cooking of the books?

      (answer: The politicians would be so vulnerable that they couldn't pass it)
      • by gilroy (155262) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @09:23AM (#3893430) Homepage Journal
        Blockquoth the poster:
        If there is a life sentence for computer hacking why isn't there one for mallicious cooking of the books?
        Answer: Because it's embarassing to have the President and Vice President locked up on Death Row.
      • As a matter of fact, they probably ruined more lives than the jets in WTC did. How many people lost their savings and pensions on Enron, Worldcom and Arthur Andersen? While it is extremely sad to lose someone you love, the effect of losing all your money is much more tangible. Yep. I'm arguing that from an impact-on-society point of view, fraud is worse than murder. Am I losing it?
  • Spanish Inquisition!

    Now all we need is for the FBI to issue red vestiments to their Computer Crimes task-force and when the pop in the door they can scream:

    No one expects the...
  • Yessir, those nasty aweful communist/drug dealers/terrorists/threat de jour are so bad we have to covertly suspend the US constitution once again to protect Freedom and Justice. My neighbor looks like one of those geeky hacker types - fetch me my alligator clips and Rat Shack amplifier...

  • " Specify that an existing ban on the "advertisement" of any device that is used primarily for surreptitious electronic surveillance applies to online ads. " From the wording of this, spyware should fall under this yes? And probably any snooping programs like the one you use to watch family members....no?
  • by Joz (100708) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:26AM (#3892787) Homepage
    Says a Rep from Texas: 'A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bullet or a bomb.'"

    This is true (Disney)
  • by ffatTony (63354) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:27AM (#3892796)

    Says a Rep from Texas: 'A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bullet or a bomb.'"

    If this is the case I see no reason why Best Buy should not be allowed to stock bombs.

    Imagine the possibilities. This could bring smiles back to the faces of teens everywhere.

    • A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bomb or bullet. But only in close quarters combat. Grasping the cord, whirl the mouse around your head, then strike your opponent in the face with it. While he is dazed, move behind him, and loop the cord around his neck, making sure that he does not interpose anything between the cord and his neck. Then, pull the cord tight, and wait.

  • I like this part.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by forsaken33 (468293)
    In the MSNBC article, there is a quote "By rewriting wiretap laws, CSEA would allow limited surveillance without a court order when there is an "ongoing attack" on an Internet-connected computer or "an immediate threat to a national security interest." That kind of surveillance would, however, be limited to obtaining a suspect's telephone number, IP address, URLs or e-mail header information--not the contents of online communications or telephone calls. ". So you have to figure, there's always an attack going on somewhere on an internet-connected computer. Heck, even wargaming would be covered. So i think the feds just got a freebie there, and im sure if your email or URLs indicate you like computers, and THEY are watching you...things could be doubleplusungood. Yes the 1984 word there IS intentional.

    The sad part is, i doubt many people will fight this. Sure, the media will acknowledge its existance, but will say that it makes life sentences available for hackers who damage our infrastructure, and further hurt digital terrorists in our country (clip of something in there). Nobody will hear about the invasion of privacy stuff. Oh wait--what privacy. Sorry, guess i forgot that its not for your average American Citizen.

  • and thought it was april fools. it's just too unreal...
    question is- what do we do about it?

    would that qualify as cruel and unusual punishment? is there anything in the constitution saying the crime must fit the bill?
    Where does this leave honeypot systems and the like?

    Will this include items suchs as peeka-booty?

    This makes me want to send a 2 line email to my congressmen including these lines:

    "are you fucking retarded?
    How can you say that things like this [2600.com] are equivelant to this? [cnn.com]

    But of course I'm sure it will soon be illegal to critisize our own gov't- because that will PROVE that we're terrorists.

    (Please god don't make be become a fucking political activist.)
  • WorldCom (Score:3, Insightful)

    by truesaer (135079) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:30AM (#3892808) Homepage
    Smith heads a subcommittee on crime, which held hearings that drew endorsements of CSEA from a top Justice Department official and executives from Microsoft and WorldCom

    The funny thing is that the biggest threat to the internet right now is WorldCom itself....since they own UUnet and are going seriously bankrupt. Of course UUnet will stay alive somehow, either by WorldCom, sold to someone else, or through a government bailout. The major backbones and networks are really in a pretty powerful position, since they control major portions of the internet.

  • by pubjames (468013) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:31AM (#3892819)
    What I don't understand about this is why there needs to be specific bills related to computer hacking.

    As I understand it, the bill relates to the case of "if the offender knowingly causes or attempts to cause death or serious bodily injury."

    Doesn't the USA have laws against this already? I mean, if I murder someone with a frozen banana, it's still murder, you don't need a law saying "you are not allowed to murder someone with a frozen banana". Surely knowingly causing or attempting to cause death or serious bodily injury is currently against the law anyway, however you go about doing it? Why is this law necessary?
    • by Zathrus (232140) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @08:30AM (#3893080) Homepage
      Yes, of course we have laws on the books already that provide for a life sentence in the case of attempted murder... and presumably at a federal level where this is in effect (state level is totally different).

      And for quite some time I wondered the same thing a lot of people did on this thread -- why did we need a specific law? Why doesn't current case law apply?

      Well, the answer probably is that, in theory, we don't need a law. Current case law does apply. The problem is that too many lawyers push the law to the limits in defense and start weasling around the letter of the law rather than the spirit. How would you like for a legitimate hacker to get off scott free because a lawyer successfully argued that his client didn't attempt to kill an entire town by sabotaging the water control systems, it was the guy who was working there that day and doing his normal job. Irrelevant that the normal control procedures had been subverted.

      Silly? Sure. But that's the way the legal system runs at times. This law prevents that kind of crap.

      Now, the wiretapping without a warrant is a whole different issue. But people are far too willing to give up their freedom for a false sense of security nowadays. It's very, very sad.
  • by Wansu (846) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:32AM (#3892824)
    I like the "from the but-still-okay-to-rip-off-the-stock-market dept". That's fitting, given the posturing of congress to get tough on corporate crime.They paid lip service to it and raised some of the penalties but they've done nothing to increase the vigor with which these cases are prosecuted. To date, few of these cases have been prosecuted. When they do prosecute a company for cooking it's books, they'll be defended by the best lawyers money can buy. When a hacker is tried, he'll have the standard, substandard legal defense. The result is few corporate criminals will ever go to jail but lots of hackers will be railroaded.
  • 'A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bullet or a bomb.'

    Then buy a cat. And stop calling crackers hackers.
  • by bons (119581) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:33AM (#3892830) Homepage Journal
    Loyd Blankenship [sjgames.com], Phil Zimmermann [philzimmermann.com], Kevin Mitnick [kevinmitnick.com], Jon Johansen [eff.org], Dmitry Sklyarov [freesklyarov.org]

    Pray you never find out the hard way.

  • While I was initially shocked by this decision, I am now of the opinion that it might actually be a good thing. It was the notion that a "mouse can be as dangerous as a bullet" that got me thinking.

    The more dangerous computer criminals (no, I won't call them "hackers") are in the eyes of the public, the more respect non-criminal computer experts, like most of us here on Slashdot, will get.

    When we choose to use our skills for good rather than evil, we will be seen as the benevolent protectors of society, much as the police and military (trained in the arts of combat, just like criminals) are seen today.
  • by Riskable (19437) <YouKnowWho@YouKnowWhat.com> on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:39AM (#3892852) Homepage Journal
    Today, the US Government passed a landmark bill that allows for life inprisonment for attempted murder through a computer. "Anyone can just sit down at their computer, push a button, and POOF! Instant erasure of the worst kind." says Attourney General John Ashcroft, "Not to mention most hackers can destroy the world economy from their parents basement."

    Senetor Hollings also commented, "I believe this new legislation will act as a deterrant for would-be hackers trying to kill people with pirated music." he continues, "The reason why there aren't more people with broadband Internet connections is precisely because of things like this. How can the movie industry adopt a medium that can kill people with the push of a button? No, no one wants broadband if they know there's hackers out there that can kill them with a few mouse clicks."

    A representative from the Bush Administration says that the new law will cut down on the rampant child pornography rings on the Internet by allowing Federal investigators to intercept any email containing questionable material and forward it directly to the President.

    President Bush commented, "Al Queda is encrypting messages in porn sites all over the Internet. I plan to PERSONALLY put an end to this terrorist network."
  • by plumby (179557) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:40AM (#3892856)
    Require the U.S. Sentencing Commission to revise sentencing guidelines for computer crimes. The commission would consider whether the offense involved a government computer, the "level of sophistication" shown and whether the person acted maliciously.

    I'm not sure I see how the level of sophistication should affect the sentencing. Does this happen in other crimes? ("He shot her a bit amateurishly, so we'll only give him 5 years"). And why does it make a difference whether its a government computer or not?

  • by dkh2 (29130)
    'A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bullet or a bomb.'
    Funny, that's exactly what Dumbo said.
  • by MongooseCN (139203) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:43AM (#3892875) Homepage
    Historically humans have always attacked and destroyed what they don't understand. That or they become religious and used religion to explain everything.

    So hacking (cracking) is no different. Most people don't understand it. They see from movies that people can sink ships and fire nukes by playing with BASIC on their Apple IIe.

    And yes I read that a life sentence is only for murder, but I'm sure a crime done through hacking will get a longer punishment than through "normal" means. There are examples of this happeneing already.
  • by Chocky2 (99588) <c@llum.org> on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:47AM (#3892892)
    SEC. 106. STRENGTHENING PENALTIES.
    Section 1030(c) of title 18, United States Code, is amended--
    `(B) if the offender knowingly or recklessly causes or attempts to cause death from conduct in violation of subsection (a)(5)(A)(i), a fine under this title or imprisonment for any term of years or for life, or both.'.


    If you try to kill somebody you might get a life term, no different to recklessly or knowingly causing death any other way. So you try to crash air traffic control computers you get thrown in jail for life - sorry if I'm not too sympathetic.
  • That's what it looks like to me.

    Murder is murder is murder, whether you use a gun, a knife, a baseball bat, an umbrella or a computer[1].

    It seems that the major western governments are rushing towards right wing police states, using terrorism as the excuse to do so. Do your "representatives" really represent you in this?

    [1] Though not a spoon. I think you should be let off for ingenuity if you manage to kill someone with a spoon.

    • 'A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bullet or a bomb.'
    Although the mistake of considering the mouse the hacker's weapon (it should be the keyboard), he knows what he's talking about.

    For they if someone dies, there's always somebody else giving birth somewhere. But if they lose money, they can't win it again. So, for them money is much more important then lives.

    Now we are sure that this is the way they think!

  • Oh so now they might hackers can be put away for life? What about is phreakers? Why are we always left out of the equation here? I demand on behalf of all the Phreakers everywhere that the EFF & ACLU file federal discrimation lawsuits against the government for not granting phreakers the equal rights of be thrown in a deep dark prison for the rest of thier lives for making free phone calls! This must be done! this is an INJUSTICE... so basically a hacker can take down amazon.com or whoever.. and go away for life and a phreaker could take down Worldcomm(oh wait they did that to themselves) err AT&T's network and go away for only a few years!! TRAVESTY PEOPLE TRAVESTY!!!

    We Phreakers demand Equal RIGHTS!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Says a Rep from Texas: 'A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bullet or a bomb.'

    So can a House member for Texas if he falls on you from a great height.
  • The spammers say: "Just hit delete"

    If it takes each recipient an average of one second[1] to identify and delete a spam, then sending (60*60*24*365*70) = Two Thousand Million spams will consume a lifetime[2] of time[3] on the part of the recipients.

    Could we convince the lawmakers that a life for a lifetime would be an appropriate punishment?

    Andrew

    [1]Some people read them, some scan them, some deal with them automagically, 1 second average is a guestimate.

    [2]Three score years and ten. Seems like a reasonable number.

    [3]Of course this ignores the waste of resource and collateral damage, such as an important email junked because it looked like spam or an importand email lost amongst the spam.

  • C'mon, people. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gannoc (210256) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @08:12AM (#3892994)
    The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Monday to create a new punishment of life imprisonment for malicious computer hackers

    Read the penalties section of the bill. Its life imprisonment for people who attempt to cause death through hacking. That is, if I hack into a control tower and try to make planes crash, I might be sentenced to life in prison.

    Currently, that would be a weak case of attempted murder. We have crimes in the country that say "If you commit a crime, there's a penalty. If you commit a crime with a weapon, thats a more serious penalty." Well, when using computers as a weapon, its a weapon.

  • by fw3 (523647) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @08:23AM (#3893041) Homepage Journal
    One thing I don't (and don't expect to see for awhile) is provisions for requiring computing systems to be 'secured'(sic). There's a fairly large tug-of-war on the 'Net these days between those who are responsible for maintaining production systems and people who run poorly secured systems which are routinely used for attack by the whoever chooses to use 'em.

    In most states of the US (and most developed nations) you are not allowed to operate an automobile without maintaining basic safety (and emissions) equipment. I expect sometime in the near future similar requirements may be made of systems connected to the internet.

    Today the conversations may look like:
    ISP: Your system is being used for attack by an intruder, if you don't take it offline and get it fixed we will enforce our AUP and take you offline.
    customer1: Ooops, sorry ok we'll spend the $$ / time to fix it
    customer2:YOU CAN'T DO THAT .. I pay for this service and I'm not responsible / can't afford to fix it ...
    ISP: CLICK

    Today, while it's feasible to keep systems patched / audited for a reasonable level of safety, many (most?) orgainizations don't have the skillset / funds allocated to keep their systems secure against even the 'kiddies, let alone a determined attacker. That's gonna have to change IMO either thru systems that are harder to break into in the first place or better practices.

    Some of the provisions of this bill are also simple clarifications of existing statutes. For instance see the provision: Specify that an existing ban on the "advertisement" of any device that is used primarily for surreptitious electronic surveillance applies to online ads. -- apparently while it's illegal to advertise wiretapping equipment in print, this will extend the restriction to online ads also.

    This explains why I've been seeing the adds and spame for keyboard keystroke recorders (shame on you thinkgeek!) and packet sniffers to protect (spy on) your kids or spouse.

  • by stu_coates (156061) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @08:25AM (#3893057)
    'A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bullet or a bomb.'

    ...if fired towards someone at several times the speed of sound. ;-)

  • by jarek (2469) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @08:34AM (#3893103)
    I had the same "knee jerk" reaction but...

    "(B) if the offender knowingly or recklessly causes or attempts to cause death from conduct in violation of subsection (a)(5)(A)(i), a fine under this title or imprisonment for any term of years or for life, or both.'."

    This just acknowledges that computers are integral and vital parts of our lifes and can be used in malicious ways just as knifes or guns. Welcome to the global village and the on-line world people. /jarek
    • The knee jerk reaction is right. When they throw "knowingly or recklessly" into the same phrase, its a tough one to beat.

      Say you hack a website, that website feeds a stock ticker on another site, and because you've changed the page that stock ticker now shows a zero value for that company's stock. Some investor sees it, and thinking his investments are now down the toilet, jumps out the window to his death.

      Now, your hack wasn't really malicious, you didn't think it would cause anyone's death. That's where the "recklessly" comes in; you didn't think of every possible outcome of your actions, thus they were reckless. That's what the prosecution is going to argue. Once the prosecution paints you as reckless, then the jury is swung to their side.

  • by tlambert (566799) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @08:39AM (#3893131)
    The 20 year penalty is for "an attempt to commit bodily harm". The Life sentence is for "an attempt to cause a death".

    Nevertheless, the bill does not *merely* do what the news reports claim, and in that, it is alarming.

    The interesting part is the definition of "protected system", which is taken from "18 U.S.C. 1030" (search for it in your favorite search engine), and the modifications made to it by the bill.

    It does not involve only government computers, as the text of the bill itself implies. It also involves "any restricted data, as defined in paragraph y. of section 11 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954" -- most of which is public information these days, and available from many web sites containing information on basic high energy physics (apparently, congress-critters believe that if they can't figure something out without a crib sheet, neither can your average university-trained physicist or engineer, which is why they think they could successfully legislate against light switches).

    Further, it includes records from "information contained in a financial record of a financial institution, or of a card issuer as defined in section 1602(n) of title 15, or contained in a file of a consumer reporting agency on a consumer", per "15 U.S.C. 1681".

    This can be loosely interpreted to mean "any system which stores credit card numbers".

    --

    The real question that we should be asking is whether this is a Writ Of Mandamus... it seems so, since there do not appear to be practical restraints on use of information gathered under the terms of this bill (i.e. "We thought he was a terrorist; as it turns out, our justification was bogus, but we still get to use the evidence gathered to inform against him for that Metallica MP3 he downloaded").

    From my reading, it's unconstitutional, under the 4th Ammendment.

    Of course, since it passed by such an incredible amount in the House, there no reason to believe that it will not quickly become law: it clearly has wide bipartisan support, and will clearly get the White House's approval (see below).

    What that effectively means is that it will remain law, until it is challenged by a perpetrator on the basis of constitutionality. Basically, the law will have to be violated to be tested, at considerable risk to the violators, given the tendency recently for the Federal Government to use the Bill Of Rights in place of toilet paper.

    I guess the only thing we don't know is whether this is an overreaction to last September, or if its an overreaction to the lack of consumer confidence in the market, where they think if they can point to themselves "*doing* something about some real market risk", we will forget all about "the man behind the curtain", and not insist on substantive tort reform.

    If you read the House Report version of the bill, you'd think the latter (e.g. reaction to "Enron")... almost all of the listed congressmen are from -- *surprise!* -- Texas.

    The Constitutional basis for incorporation itself is to serve the public and shareholders interests (read the relevent USC on incorporation, if you don't believe me); this seems to have been reduced to nothing more than "fiduciary responsibility to protect shareholder value, and screw public interst". More fundamental reform is required: this is not about people not acting like a--holes for fear of the penalty, it's about people not acting like a--holes because they *aren't* a--holes.

    -- Terry
  • by night_flyer (453866) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @09:13AM (#3893353) Homepage
    (5) if the offender knowingly causes or attempts to cause death or serious bodily injury in a violation of subsection (a)(5)(A)(i), a fine under this title, imprisonment for any term of years or for life, or both.

    they arent talking about a DoS attack & they arent talking about defacing someones website. they are talking about air traffic contol systems, stoplight controls on busy intersections, railway switching programs, nuclear powerplant software and other things that have the potential to cause graet harm...

    they may have been watching to many movies, but I see where they are coming from....
  • by dh003i (203189) <dh003i@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @09:17AM (#3893393) Homepage Journal
    First, survelliance without a court order is unconstitutional. This portion of the bill will surely be stricken down by the Supreme Court.

    Second, the rest of the law is redundant and unnecessary. Crimes committed via the internet should receive the same punishment as those in the real-world, where the situation is analagous. For example, breaking and entering can be treated the same. Simply hacking into a persons computer is breaking and entering, even if it causes no damage; similarly, breaking/entering into a person's home, even if you do no damage or steal nothing (and don't damage the locks), is a crime.

    When a hacker purposefully hacks into, say the USAF HQ, and steals top-secret documents on airplane design, then divulges them to China that's a crime just as it is in real life (treason). Similarly, it should be punishable just as it is in real life (by life in prison or death).

    Another example, if a mob boss orders an underling to kill someone via an on-line e-mail, that's murder and conspiracy to commit murder. It should be punished just as it is in real life: by life in prison or death.

    The fact that a crime took place over the media of the internet does not greaten or lessen its severity or lack-thereof. It simply creates a jurisdictional issue. The issue can be solved like such: if a crime is committed on the internet and its affect occurs in that state, then its the state's jurisdiction; if it occurs in one state and affects another (i.e., the mob boss in NY orders his hitman to kill someone in CA), then it should be under federal jurisdiction.
  • by Quila (201335) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @09:27AM (#3893462)
    'A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bullet or a bomb.'

    Just great, now we'll have a five-day waiting period on mice, and export controls.

    And now that he's equated mice with weapons, wouldn't the 2nd Amendment kick in to guarantee your right to keep and bear mice?

    Last question in relation to that statement: If a cracker only uses the keyboard, is he safe from prosecution?
  • by be-fan (61476) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @10:38AM (#3894056)
    While this bill is very worrying, given the increased power it gives to the DOJ (and that maniac Ashcroft...), it's not as bad as its made out to be. Basically, the extreme penalties are for those who knowingly commit acts that result in death or serious bodily injury. That only makes sense. Killing somebody by hacking into an important computer is just as bad as killing him any other way. Also, it increases the penalties for illegally intercepting electronic communications, which is a good thing. Maybe that clause can be used against the FBI and DOJ when they get a little too snoopy.
  • by Col. Panic (90528) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @10:56AM (#3894225) Homepage Journal
    With commands like 'kill', 'killall', 'bash', 'dig', 'cut' and 'wipe' we have clearly frightened our legislators. And with commands like 'head', 'tail', 'latex' and 'gawk' they think we are perverts too.
  • by chuckw (15728) <chuckw@quantumlinux.com> on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @11:27AM (#3894534) Homepage Journal
    Somehow this seemed appropriate:

    The Conscience of a Hacker
    by Mentor
    Written on January 8, 1986

    Another one got caught today, it's all over the papers. "Teenager Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal", "Hacker Arrested after Bank Tampering"...

    Damn kids. They're all alike.

    But did you, in your three-piece psychology and 1950's technobrain, ever take a look behind the eyes of the hacker? Did you ever wonder what made him tick, what forces shaped him,what may have molded him?

    I am a hacker, enter my world...

    Mine is a world that begins with school. I'm smarter than most of the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me...

    Damn underachiever. They're all alike.

    I'm in junior high or high school. I've listened to teachers explain for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I understand it. "No, Ms. Smith, I didn't show my work. I did it in my head."

    Damn kid. Probably copied it. They're all alike.

    I made a discovery today. I found a computer.

    Wait a second, this is cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it's because I screwed it up.

    Not because it doesn't like me...
    Or feels threatened by me...
    Or thinks I'm a smart ass...
    Or doesn't like teaching and shouldn't be here...

    Damn kid. All he does is play games. They're all alike.

    And then it happened. A door opened to a world rushing through my phone line like heroin through an addict's veins, an electronic pulse is sent out, a refuge from the day-to-day incompetencies is sought... a board is found.

    "This is it... this is where I belong." I know everyone here... even if I've never met them, never talked to them, may never hear from them again... I know you all.

    Damn kid. Tying up the phone line again. They're all alike.

    You bet your ass we're all alike... we've been spoon-fed baby food at school when we hungered for steak... the bits of meat that you did let slip through were pre-chewed and tasteless. We've been dominated by sadists, or ignored by the apathetic. The few that had something to teach found us willing pupils, but those few are like drops of water in the desert.

    This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals.
    We explore... and you call us criminals. We seek after knowledge... and you call us criminals.

    We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias... and you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it's for our own good, yet we're the criminals.

    Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for.

    I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you can't stop us all...

    After all, we're all alike.

    Copyright 1986 by Loyd Blankenship (mentor@blankenship.com). All rights reserved.
  • by LuYu (519260) on Wednesday July 17, 2002 @01:37AM (#3899631) Homepage Journal

    It is interesting that Congress has approved a penalty usually reserved for murder for a crime that essentially amounts to expensive vandalism. If you deface a wall, you get a few hours of community service. If you deface a website, you get life. I would say that it is difficult to consider a society that can put people in prison for life for a crime that is more or less a misdemeanor a free society.

    What about those Enron and Worldcom executives? When do they get life in prison or an even stiffer sentence? The crime they committed was premeditated stealing. That at least would be considered a felony in most cultures.

    Moral:
    If you are greedy and like to steal, Uncle Sam wants you to run a major corporation and write a book. If you are a teenager and have nothing better to do than deface a little property, better do it with spray paint, because if you use your computer, you can grow old in prison.

    Nice message we are sending to young people these days. I suppose Gecko was right: "Greed... is good!"

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