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Felony For Refreshing a Web Page? 965

Posted by Zonk
from the dangerous-pixelantes dept.
therandomw writes "An 18 year-old boy was recently arrested in Ohio for telling fellow students to refresh the schools web page in order to slow down the server. He is being charged with a felony and is currently being held in jail. According to Canton City Prosecutor Frank Forchione 'This new technology has created a whole wave of crimes, and we're just trying to find ways to solve them.'"
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Felony For Refreshing a Web Page?

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  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:16PM (#14412505) Journal

    AFAIK this barely even brushes up against being a felony, but let the school officials have their fun! Had they just ignored this and let it go (maybe take the kid aside and dress him down a bit), this would have slipped off the radar in half a day. As it is, they've loaded, locked, and are about to fire, aiming right at their own feet.

    BTW, I'm just wondering who the first brave soul in slashdot is who will actually post the schools URL. (Also, BTW, it's pretty easily found in Google: Lake High School Uniontown Ohio, duh).

  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:17PM (#14412510) Homepage
    This school must have a pretty bad webserver if simply clicking on refresh brings the server to its knees. I mean, it's not like they were generating millions of hits.
  • Low-tech DDoS? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kelson (129150) * on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:17PM (#14412512) Homepage Journal
    Sounds like a distributed denial of service attack. He just left out the automation.

    Logically, the only thing that distinguishes a DoS from the Slashdot Effect is intent. If your intent is to spread awareness of the material that appears on a server, and the server can't handle it, well, that's tough for the server, but that's how the Internet works. If your intent is to take the server down, that's illegal.

    Up until now, most deliberate attacks were automated, making it easy to separate overwhelming legit traffic from attacks -- but that's only really as accurate as trying to separate legitimate city traffic from criminals by assuming that anyone on foot is a burglar.

    Of course, when you get down to the level of intent, you get to his contention that "Help me crash my school's server" was a joke, and that he wasn't actually trying to get people to follow through. And things get murky.
  • by User 956 (568564) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:22PM (#14412580) Homepage
    This problem can be solved through software already -- the school didn't take necessary means to avoid such a simple "DoS" style attack.

    Judging by this quote, it sounds like they don't even really have a grasp on what kind of "attack" it was.

    "It's a crime and it is important we take this seriously ... especially for school officials ... it could have done a tremendous amount of damage," said Canton City Prosecutor Frank Fronchione.

    Causing a tremendous amount of damage? WTF? He's not DDoSing Air Traffic Control. What a total load. This kid should sue these jackasses for libel, false arrest, and harassment.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:23PM (#14412586)
    This is their webpage [k12.oh.us].

    It's dead, predictably. Once again some morons in authority have demonstrated their complete lack of understanding of internet culture. Anyone with an ounce of knowledge of the way people like us think would have dealt with this as quietly as possible so as not to incur the wrath of the entire world. Instead, they thought they'd be smart and "show what they do about this kind of joke", or whatever it was they said.

    They shall pay the price for their lack of vision...
  • Possible Precident (Score:2, Insightful)

    by QuantumFTL (197300) * <justin,wick&gmail,com> on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:24PM (#14412594)
    Many human actions are only damaging if done en mass. It is a crime to incite individuals to violence, or to disrupt the peace. While this is surely not a violent crime, instructing individuals to perform a DDoS is an attack, whether performed in cyberspace (via browser refresh or other methods) or in real life (say, inciting a flash mob to take all the paper numbers in a waiting line, and leave).

    While I'm not certain felony charges are warranted in this instance, inciting detrimental group behavior is far from a new thing, and should be punished.
  • by jaygatsby27 (894445) * on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:24PM (#14412597) Homepage
    Than Slashdot should have been in jail long ago. Isn't that exactly what this website is good for?
  • by cavemanf16 (303184) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:25PM (#14412613) Homepage Journal
    It's not "Canton City", it's just Canton. And, after having visited there recently, I can tell you it's a midwest town - NOT a city - where life moves just a bit slower than the rest of the country. You can tell by Mr. Fanchione's comments on the article that the police are "trying to teach this youngin' a lesson!" and think they're just so smart for arresting this kid. I agree with your sentiments about how important this really is in the face of actually dangerous stuff. There were all kinds of buildings in that town that probably need to be condemned because they're a fire and health hazard, but no, the 'authorities' are busy arresting kids smarter than they are.
  • by undeadly (941339) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:26PM (#14412621)
    Even so, it seems crazy to me to waste taxpayer dollars chasing down this citizen and even more dollars prosecuting him. While the law is supposed to be around to protect property, I don't see how this is a felony. He didn't do the refreshing, did he? He used his right to speak freely.

    What's crazy is the legal system allowing this. It favors those with deep pockets to bully and force their will upon others since just the hint of legal action is enough to deter most in USA. RIAA actions are public examples of this type of behavior, along with US style patent practices/laws.

  • by SoCalChris (573049) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:26PM (#14412624) Journal
    From TFA:

    It's not the first time local officials have investigated situations where students are misusing computers. Forchione noted a 2005 case in which four Jackson High School students were charged with misdemeanors after being caught accessing the school computer system. Some grades were changed.

    So, breaking in to the school's computer system, and changing grades is a misdemeanor, but encouraging people to visit the school's publicly posted website is a felony?

    Yeah, I know the kid had malicious intentions, but why is this a felony when actually breaking into their system and causing damage is only a misdemeanor?

    "Michael said it was a joke," Forchione said. "We showed him how we deal with this kind of joke."

    This prosecutor needs to be smacked.
  • by Psionicist (561330) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:30PM (#14412659)
    This doesn't make any sense, at all.

    - If a boy tells his friend to reload a webpage, he gets thrown into jail and gets felony charges.
    - A lone spammer gets $11 billion in fines.
    - If joe sixpack downloads a movie he gets huge fines.

    Yet, if a medium to large corporation sell/delete customer records, infect consumers computers with spyware or the like, they only get a slap on the wrist?

    When did corporations get more freedoms than individuals?
  • DoS not Refresh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by garver (30881) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:30PM (#14412662)
    He arranged a Denial of Service attack. Think of his "fellow students" as zombies and him as a script kiddie, then pretend you're the admin or legit user of this site. Now tell me you wouldn't be a wee bit perturbed. This is akin to willfull destruction of property and saying he's only guilt of refreshing a browser is like saying a car thief is only guilt of moving your car.

    A felony is a bit harsh though. Perhaps there were significant damages involved. Or the cops are out of control.
  • by GhaleonStrife (916215) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:30PM (#14412663)
    Wow. They even give you his street address, in case you wanna walk up and punch him in the face. He's no longer safe from the school bullies! ...Provided he ever gets out of jail.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:31PM (#14412671) Journal
    If I tell all my friends to drive up and down mainstreet a thousand times a day to wear down the pavement, have I committed a felony?
  • intent matters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:33PM (#14412694) Homepage Journal
    if i break your arm because i didn't see you standing behind me while i was moving a heavy piece of furniture, then there should be mild repercussions

    if i break your arm by taking it, looking dead in your eye, and twisting it as hard as i can, then there should be severe repercussions

    the whole issue is one of intent

    intent matters in this world, and any opinion that ignores intent, about this kid, or a whole range of modern problems in this world, is not a useful or valid opinion
  • Re:Number of hits (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pdbogen (596723) <pdbogen-slashdot.cernu@us> on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:33PM (#14412702) Homepage
    According to TFA (I forgive you for not reading it.. this is slashdot, after all), they server admins noticed a slowdown and caught on.

    FWIW, for everyone lambasting assuming that "connected to" means "linked to," it's possible that the kid's web page loaded the school's in fifteen hundred IFRAMES (and if the school's website is set to no-cache, which is probably likely, this could be trouble), and also that their hit counter only registers unique IP addresses.

    /Devil's Advocate
    //Are these allowed on slashdot?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:35PM (#14412720)

    When did corporations get more freedoms than individuals?


    When you gave corporations the right to be considered a person.
  • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:36PM (#14412724)
    Crying fire in a theatre is private property -- the Constitution protects nothing on private property and the theatre owner is responsible for setting the standards of speech.

    You don't make any sense.

    Under your interpretation of free speech, it would be perfectly fine to cry "fire" in a public place (say, the Capitol building) and you would bear no responsibility for the resulting chaos that ensued, even if people were trampled to death during the panic.

    That's ridiculous.

  • by podperson (592944) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:38PM (#14412743) Homepage
    Crying fire in a theatre is private property -- the Constitution protects nothing on private property and the theatre owner is responsible for setting the standards of speech.

    Um ... no.

    You think murder is legal/constitutional on private property? Or wiretapping? Or cruel and unusual punishment?

    Crying fire in a crowded theatre -- as an example of the limits of free expression -- is the same regardless of whether the theatre is privately or publicly owned.

    All of that said, getting folks to click "refresh" is about as legal as suggesting that folks grab free brochures from a stand so as to exhaust the supply of brochures, except that printing more brochures and refreshing the stand are both more expensive to do than restarting a server.
  • by rdmiller3 (29465) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:40PM (#14412761) Journal
    So they toss a kid into jail because he said, "Click here to crash my school's wussy server."

    Yes, it's a low-tech sort of DDoS attack but it's not automated. He didn't actually do it himself. It involved the willful cooperation of other individuals. That makes it more like a "grassroots movement".

    What if he had said, "Send an info request letter to my school, to swamp the mail-room," hmm?? That's the hardcopy version of what he did. Would he get thrown in jail for that?

    I can understand that people wouldn't be pleased by this kid inciting a bit of social disruption, but calling it a felony and throwing him in jail is far too extreme.

  • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:41PM (#14412773)
    If I tell all my friends to drive up and down mainstreet a thousand times a day to wear down the pavement, have I committed a felony?

    If your friends deny the use of Main Street to other motorists, you can expect to be hit with at least a misdemeanor charge for being a public nuisance. Operating a motorcade with out a permit and "cruising" too, if laws against those behaviors exist in your town and the police who trace the activity back to you want to send a message.

    It's common sense. "Take a penny" trays don't give you the right to reach over and empty the register, and neither does granting of access to any other resource give you the right to hoard and abuse an unreasonable share of that resource.
  • by notsoanonymouscoward (102492) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:42PM (#14412787) Journal
    I wonder if inciting a DDOS will eventually be a crime...

  • by User 956 (568564) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:48PM (#14412846) Homepage
    "Michael said it was a joke," Forchione said. "We showed him how we deal with this kind of joke."

    Yes. They deal with this kind of joke by wasting actual public resources (police, prosecutor, court staff, et cetera). Splendid.
  • by Irvu (248207) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:48PM (#14412851)
    There was a time when we made an important distinction between types of crimes. Misdemeanors were "minor crimes" annoyances that can be cleared up easily enough and are a) not worth making permanent and b) best forgotten once the problems is solved. A classic example is littering, or spraypainting something on a park bench. The former is solved by making the littebug pick up their garbage (and mabye some other peoples') and the latter by having the offendor repaint the bench brown. In both cases the offence can be "fixed" and the individual can learn form a simple dressing down. In most juristictions misdemeanors are not even recorded (or didn't used to be) and never ever became part of someone's permanent criminal record (especially a minor). Moreover misdemeanors aren't liable for jail time above and beyond "time served" (in the drunk tank).

    Felonies are major or "permanent" crimes such as theft, maim, and murder. They connotate crimes that cannot be simply "cleaned up", crimes that cannot be undone in any meaningful sense and crimes that may signal permanent problems for the individual in question. Felonies attatch much stiffer penalties (for both juveniles and adults) as well as "permanence". In some states felons lose the right to vote permanently. This is politely known as "Civil Disenfranchisement". In Midevil times it was associated with the term "Civil Death". Felons are also forbidden from obtaining some jobs (in government), and have to tell all other employers of their status. They are also often forbidden from obtaining some scholarships and grants. While not all of these attatch automatically to juvenile felons many of them do. Increasing numbers of states are making no distinction between juvenile felonies and adult felonies. Unlike midsdemeanor crimes felons are truly marked for life.

    The basic upshot of this is that this kid could be harmed for life for what is, in essence, a nothing crime. He encouraged people to visit a website and thereby caused a server to run slow, not stop, not crash, not burst into flames, just run slow. This is a temporary problem, a fixable problem, and one that doesn't even require two coats of paint.

    This is a dangerous, vicious overreaction on the part of the city prosecutor, and the school officials. They are abusing their power and risk punishing a kid for life for something that should be handled by a stern talking to and no dessert.

    Some ex convicts carry around a felony conviction that prevents them from re-entering society or impairs them in some way thus encouraging a return to crime. How much worse is that when the conviction is for something less-damaging than littering.

    On another note, I wonder when the prosecutor's up for reelection?
  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:49PM (#14412865) Homepage Journal
    Under your interpretation of free speech, it would be perfectly fine to cry "fire" in a public place (say, the Capitol building) and you would bear no responsibility for the resulting chaos that ensued, even if people were trampled to death during the panic.

    Congress shall make NO LAW... who doesn't make any sense?

    If I scream fire in the Capitol building, and you trample another -- you committed the violent act. If I hear someone yell fire, I look, I smell, I consider.

    Oh, when I was younger my parents' house did burn down while I was in the house -- and I left calmly while still telling my mother-in-law that the house was on fire. My brother and his friend also ran out calmly.

    The one who does the trampling should be found guilty of murder, especially if they ran with no obvious signs of fire.
  • by DarkClown (7673) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:50PM (#14412870) Homepage
    Wow, this 'kid' is 18, as in he's an adult legal record wise, so if he's found guilty, and then say gets deferred adjudication he will still have a felony arrest on his record for life.
    Pretty whack.
  • by ClamIAm (926466) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:52PM (#14412890)
    When did corporations get more freedoms than individuals?

    This happens when a populace starts caring more about iPods and celebrities than making sure their government isn't corrupt. If you live in America, you probably see what I'm talking about. And if you live here and don't see it, you've already fallen victim to it.

  • Re:Low-tech DDoS? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by raoul666 (870362) <pi.rocks@ g m a i l .com> on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:53PM (#14412898)
    Logically, the only thing that distinguishes a DoS from the Slashdot Effect is intent. If your intent is to spread awareness of the material that appears on a server, and the server can't handle it, well, that's tough for the server, but that's how the Internet works. If your intent is to take the server down, that's illegal.

    I agree, but it begs the question: what if someone submitted a story to /. with the intent to crash the server of his enemy? Is that illegal? If so, was it his wrongdoing, /.'s, ours, etc. What if the owner of said page sent an email to Taco begging his site be taken down? Is that now Taco's felony? And what if a group of people, such as on /., got together specifically to do this to all their enemies, but under the guise of it being a serious website?

    Just being devil's advocate. I think it's generally pretty clear what's malicious and what's not. And they clearly overreacted to this kid.
  • Crime is often determined by intent. Refreshing a webpage is not a crime. Refreshing a webpage with the intent of taking it down is a Denial Of Service attack. Granted IANAL but intent is pretty significant (though not as significant as the quality of your lawyer. Or the size of your pocketbook.)
  • Re:Low-tech DDoS? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HardCase (14757) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:56PM (#14412931)
    The typical /. reaction:

    Guy incites a bunch of his buddies to crash school's web server and gets arrested for it. "What kind of police state is this? He didn't hurt anybody! He has free speech!"

    Kid incites a bunch of his buddies to crash Joe Geek's web server in his bedroom. "Joe Geek ought to sue him! He should be arrested for (pick the latest /. obscure legal term of the month). He has free speech? What about my right to host a web server!"

    On the other hand he got busted with a felony, while the kids who changed their grades were arrested with misdemeanors. Now that seems a little out of whack.

    -h-
  • by TBone (5692) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:56PM (#14412932) Homepage

    It's not a "zero tolerance" issue, the kid, in a low-tech, manual way, instigated a Distributed Denial of Service attack against his school's computers.

    The only difference here is this kid used a bunch of friend's fingers on the F5 key instead of a BotNet to get the job done.

  • Re:Low-tech DDoS? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Friday January 06, 2006 @07:02PM (#14412990) Journal
    Perhaps, but the intent was to do marginal harm. Crashing a school's server is really quite harmless. Even any unintended consequences are going to be fairly small. Some people are mildly inconvenienced in a small way. That's all. He hasn't damaged the computer. He hasn't stolen anything. He hasn't prevented them from making money. Prosecuting him for a felony seems disproportionate. Punishing him with detention should be all that's needed.
  • by Aeiri (713218) on Friday January 06, 2006 @07:03PM (#14412998)
    It's common sense. "Take a penny" trays don't give you the right to reach over and empty the register, and neither does granting of access to any other resource give you the right to hoard and abuse an unreasonable share of that resource.

    It's also common sense that your analogy doesn't work. If you are driving up and down on the public road, and "hoard and abuse an unreasonable share of that resource", you are driving up and down on the road all day. If you take a penny, and "hoard and abuse an unreasonable share of that resource", you are taking all the pennies in the tray, not taking from the register.

    Taking from the register in this case is like driving around on someone's private property, not on public property. The gas station never said you could touch the register whatsoever, but the tray they said you could. Likewise, the private property owner never said you could drive around on his property, but the public property is okay.
  • Re:Low-tech DDoS? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Aurisor (932566) on Friday January 06, 2006 @07:07PM (#14413031) Homepage
    Yeah, and that time I pounded my desk with my fist of annoyance? That was a low-tech earthquake. I just left out the automation!

    If you go through all of high school without at least one token subversive act or outburst, there's something WRONG with you. Kids are going to turn the phones upside down. They are going to put the chalk in the erasers. They're going to putz with the computers. Get over it.

    The lab monitor should have given him a talking to and let the damn thing rest.
  • by pete6677 (681676) on Friday January 06, 2006 @07:27PM (#14413200)
    That explains it right there. The prosecutor is just grandstanding; trying to look progressive by "fighting cybercrime". I don't think he has the slightest clue what an ass he will look like once this filters throught the national news. The taxpayers probably won't appreciate his waste of public resources either. In fact, I think the kid's family will probably succeed with a malicious prosecution lawsuit and get a settlement for "unspecified damages".
  • The best quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digitalgimpus (468277) on Friday January 06, 2006 @07:29PM (#14413224) Homepage
    The best quote on this is:


    "It's a crime and it is important we take this seriously ... especially for school officials ... it could have done a tremendous amount of damage," said Canton City Prosecutor Frank Fronchione.


    HA! An overloaded server is damage? Tremendous?

    I think this guy is trying to turn an overloaded school website (like anyone visits that anyway) into a mini-9/11.

    Tremendous Damage is essentially reserved for 9/11, Oklahoma City, type damage.

    IMHO that's borderline slander since it's extremely unlike for any true damage, forget about "Tremendous".

    Those are just words to get in the paper, at the expense of someone else's reputation.

    If I were that kids parents, I'd consider a lawsuit. Then again, nobody ever wins a lawsuit against a prosecutor.
  • by Wansu (846) on Friday January 06, 2006 @07:56PM (#14413438)


    In the 60s, when I was growing up, only real bad offenses were deemed felonies. Murder, Rape, Arson, Armed Robbery and other stuff like that. Then along comes a new breed of careerist prosecutors and grandstanding politicians, all one-uping each other to see who could be toughest on crime. They're ratcheted damn near everything up to felony status. Are there any misdimeanors anymore?

    In my state and others, many drug offenses carry longer mandatory minimum sentences than violent crimes. I was buying ammo recently at a gun shop. There was a sticker beside the register which warned of a 10 year sentence for buying a firearm for someone who shouldn't have one. Well, there ought to be a serious penalty for that but Armed Bank Robbery carries a 7 year penalty. Either the illegal gun purchase should carry a shorter penalty or the violent robbery should carry more. It's nuts.

    These officials who slapped the HS kid with a felony say they're doing it to send a message. This is zero tolerance run amuk. All this felonizing of picayune offenses reminds me of something Deep Purple Ian Gilliam joked about on the Made In Japan album, "Make everything louder than everthing else."

  • Re:The best quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by robertjw (728654) on Friday January 06, 2006 @07:56PM (#14413443) Homepage
    I think this guy is trying to turn an overloaded school website (like anyone visits that anyway) into a mini-9/11.

    Better yet, his actions have actually resulted in the 'Tremendous amount of damage' he wanted to avoid.
  • by Firehed (942385) on Friday January 06, 2006 @08:03PM (#14413506) Homepage
    If refreshing is a felony, what does a slashdotting and being dugg count for then? I'm thinking whatever a DDOS gets you, by their standards. No wonder prisons are overcrowded.
  • by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Friday January 06, 2006 @08:09PM (#14413549) Homepage
    I would think that one criteria you didn't list would be even more significant to this case: inciting imminent lawless action.

    Since when is it "lawless action" to reload a web page with the refresh button? Is a person "incit[ing] imminent lawless action" if they ask a bunch of friends to call the school's main office (for example)? Why should that be any different? If it was illegal to call the office (or load the web page) then this would make sense, but those actions are not illegal at present. How can it be a felony to incite lawful action?
  • Harmless prank (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thaelon (250687) on Friday January 06, 2006 @08:19PM (#14413613)
    Since when do harmless pranks get you sent to jail?!

    And yes it was a harmless prank, the server didn't even come down. And even if it had it would have come back up at what, the end of the class period?

    I can remember getting in trouble for making various projectile devices ranging from spitwads to a pen crossbow (that would put a chopstick into a wall....ok that was kinda dangerous) and I never got freaking arrested.

    Schools are ridiculous these days. Let kids be kids.
  • by nahdude812 (88157) on Friday January 06, 2006 @08:19PM (#14413614) Homepage
    If they can demonstrate material damages, yes, for sure, even with out cyber laws. Encouraging any unusual and unnatural behavior which causes material damage is a felony.

    If they are on restricted bandwidth, and you encourage people in an unnatural action which causes them to exceed this bandwidth and so incur extra charges, you're responsible for those charges.

    Unnatural doesn't mean posting a link. Unnatural *does* mean encouraging people to repeatedly reload the link with the specific intention of taking down the server, as this kid did.

    It's not illegal for me to walk into a store. It's not illegal for me to encourage other people to walk into a store. It *is* illegal for me to encourage a thousand people to walk into a store and jump up and down until the floor collapses.

    Although this oppinion won't be popular here on the 'dot, the kid effectively incited people to vandalism of some nature, whether in his area this is a misdemeanor or a felony depends a lot on his local laws. Depending on how much damage (eg, man hours to bring the server back up plus bandwidth overage charges) he caused it's definately a felony. If he knowingly spoke to people outside his own state and encouraged them as well, then perhaps it counts as having crossed state borders, and then it's a federal crime.

    Let's not delude ourselves, according to the article his objective was vandalism; he deserves a visit from the cops for that.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday January 06, 2006 @08:54PM (#14413917) Journal
    The point is that this kid really committed any kind of felony. Mischieve that does no long-term harm, costs no real substantial amounts of money, and is based solely off the kid saying "yeah, make sure to hit refresh guys" is hard to even see in the misdemeanor category.

    Is it me, or are school administrations and school boards in the US being populated more and more frequently with the kind of people who don't seem to have actually graduated?

  • This is pretty sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smchris (464899) on Friday January 06, 2006 @09:00PM (#14413972)
    "Michael said it was a joke," Forchione said. "We showed him how we deal with this kind of joke."

    Being 18, they showed him, indeed, considering he will have a felony in the database tracking him for the rest of his life. In lieu of a job, I guess he can get a book from Loompanics on how to cook meth and be a drug dealer.

    But I suppose they had to balance the ethical issues to reach a wise decision. I mean, it's hard to imagine the horror of school web sites crashing around the country. That would send a signal that we're weak on terra.

    The more the idea takes hold in my mind, the easier it is to see examples of what cowardly bullies Americans are. Yup, the Canton police really showed this kid what happens when you mess with the school web site. "Take that computer-using high school kid!"

    Maybe Kevin Mitnick can get him gigs speaking at the high school circuit?

  • by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Friday January 06, 2006 @09:19PM (#14414113) Journal
    Welcome to slashdot, not only do we do your job 100 times better for you, we also stalk you so we can slip into your life seemlessly..

    Seriously, you're going WAY beyond the "sane" limit here. It's kinda scary that you want his phone number and have his address..
  • by gizmonic (302697) * on Friday January 06, 2006 @10:09PM (#14414435) Homepage
    People modded you as funny, but if you read the actual law, then yes, pushing all the buttons in an elevator could, in fact, be a felony:

    SB 146, Sec 2909.04:
    (B) No person shall knowingly use any ... electronic device or system ... so as to disrupt, interrupt, or impair the functions of any ... commercial ... operations.
    (C) Whoever violates this section is guilty of disrupting public services, a felony of the fourth degree.
    (Law snippet borrowed from previous poster...)

    That's not really funny at all.
  • by dhasenan (758719) on Friday January 06, 2006 @10:21PM (#14414474)
    It's a high school website. If it got twenty hits in an average day, that's more than I expect; and if any essential school functions were handled by that server, the IT people in charge should be shot.

    So, there's the law. How does it apply? The kid used speech to ask others to use a computer to disrupt non-essential functions undertaken by an educational system, but not for an educational purpose. It doesn't.
  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Friday January 06, 2006 @10:35PM (#14414524)
    the school servers were simply not up to the task they were intended for,

    You know, if the school was trying to run a version of /. on their servers to provide a discussion forum for tens of thousands of people around the world, you'd be right.

    I doubt that is what the web server was intended to be doing, however. It was probably intended to provide information to local parents and students and people moving to the area.

    To pretend that anyone who wants to run a webserver needs to have the amount of hardware and bandwidth that /. uses just so it can do "the task [they] were intended for" is silly.

    ... as he merely linked to a site,

    Read the article. He did not "merely link" to a site. He created a link with an explicit request for people to repeatedly refresh the page with the intent to crash the school's site. It's a static page, so repeatedly refreshing it serves no purpose other than create needless page requests and services, which was his intent. And he got caught. Good.

    If it happened to a server you ran, you'd call it "denial of service". When it happens to someone else, it's "just the way the internet is supposed to work". Right.

  • Three Strikes Law (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Friday January 06, 2006 @10:57PM (#14414645) Homepage Journal
    And since it's a felony, if he does this twice more they'll sentence him to life in prison.
  • by MntlChaos (602380) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @04:35AM (#14415766)
    Fair enough. He encouraged others to do something which would harm the school district. So is organizing a massive write-in or phone-in campaign. It ties up resources for the target in all cases, but is still legal. The one exception to this is with regard to faxes (junk fax laws). It's up to the target to respond accordingly. He has the right to ask people to join in his campaign. Those people have a right to join him. Is he an asshole? absolutely. But dealing with assholes is a part of the cost of a free society.
  • by Caiwyn (120510) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @11:49AM (#14416838)
    He encouraged others to do something which would harm the school district. So is organizing a massive write-in or phone-in campaign. It ties up resources for the target in all cases, but is still legal.

    And that's exactly where the similarities end. A write-in or phone-in campaign is protected free speech, and has an explicit goal which is stated in the act itself. Your reference to "harm" being done to the district is dubious at best -- that is not the intended goal of such a campaign.

    This kid's actions were not "speech" in any form, and did not have an explicit goal other than to directly harm the district. If another goal was intended, it is not stated in the act itself.

    Grandparent poster is right. This kid pulled an easy denial-of-service attack. He SAID as much when he posted the link to the school's website and asked people to try to crash it.

    You will find that most crime requires both execution and intent. That's why refreshing a webpage as a matter of course isn't illegal, but doing so in an attempt to take down a web server is. It's also why "manslaughter" and "homicide" are separate criminal acts.
  • by Lothsahn (221388) <Lothsahn@@@SPAM_ ... u_bastardsyahocm> on Saturday January 07, 2006 @02:26PM (#14417431)
    Not quite. A massive phone in or write-in campaign to express your opinions is protected under free speech. It's the act of expressing your opinion on a specific issue, and that is protected.

    Hammering a server for fun and games is NOT free speech. He is not attempting to discuss a political or social issue; it is simply a DDOS, even if it is a very simple one.

    The issue isn't that he did something wrong. He did. The issue is the COMPLETE overreaction of the school officials.

    He's a KID (not an asshole, an 18 year old KID), for gosh sakes, and he's just having fun. Since when was fun so wrong in our society?

    Let's compare:
    1) Fifty years ago, when a kid made a minor offense such as:
    a) scratching some graffiti on a barn
    b) scaring a farmer's animals to create havoc

    He/she was forced to help the farmer for a few hours, or clean up their graffiti (community service). Now we throw them in JAIL and give them a FELONY charge which will follow them for the REST OF THEIR LIVES.

    It's not like he hacked the computer or tried to change his grades. He's probably a smart kid wondering if it's possible to overload a server simply refreshing a page. Let him learn, both about computers and the (reasonable) consequences of his actions. Wanna teach "computer ethics" in school? This is how. Make him clean the school or suspend him for a day or something.

E = MC ** 2 +- 3db

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