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3 of 4 Charges Against Terry Childs Dropped 189

Posted by kdawson
from the childs-play dept.
phantomfive writes "Terry Childs, who was arrested nearly a year ago for refusing to turn over the passwords to San Francisco's FiberWAN network, has been cleared of three of the four charges against him. The dropped charges referred to the attachment of modems to the network; the remaining charge is for refusing to turn over the password. The prosecutor has vowed to appeal, to have the charges reinstated. We have the original story, and the story where Childs tells his side, for those who want a refresher."
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3 of 4 Charges Against Terry Childs Dropped

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  • Witch hunt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joaommp (685612) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @08:17AM (#29162721) Homepage Journal

    Always seemed to me this was not much more than a witch hunt. Why else would them set a bail higher than for killers and rapists?

    • Re:Witch hunt (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 23, 2009 @10:16AM (#29163339)

      politics 101. pissing of the ones in power is the worst crime you can commit.

    • by Auraiken (862386)
      Totally agree, someone tag this story "hero".

      This guy should never have had to go to jail over this garbage. They could still have had court cases in a civil fashion.
    • by julesh (229690)

      Why else would them set a bail higher than for killers and rapists?

      AIUI, the process of setting bail includes making a judgment of how much money the accused could afford to lose. See Stack v Boyle:

      "Bail is excessive when set at an amount higher than necessary to achieve a legitimate government purpose. If the purpose is to ensure a defendant's appearance at trial, and if found guilty serve the sentence, then bail may not be set higher than needed to meet those ends."

      The judge setting bail must take this i

  • by Manip (656104) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @08:30AM (#29162789)

    I'm sorry but this guy has already had time served. Even if they do find him guilty one year in jail for what he did is far more than enough. Plus 1M bail? Is he a violent criminal? ...

    This sounds like a classic story if ignorant people making decisions about technical crime and getting scared. I aim that both at the city and at the judge who set the original bail.

    We need special technical trials for things like this within which both the defence and prosecution are allowed to bring in technical witnesses to put the case into perspective for non-technical people (as opposed to "HACKER! Get the pitch forks!").

    • by Seumas (6865) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @08:36AM (#29162821)

      Ignorant people are afraid of the technologically savvy the same way they are afraid of science. They don't understand it, so rather than bettering their knowledge and informing themselves, they'd rather fear the worst and attack those who represent a threat (that is, those who know something they don't).

      Also, why didn't the guy just say "dude, it was a complex random password and I've completely forgotten it"? They can't force you to give them a password that you've forgotten, surely? Also, is a partial "moral victory" really worth an entire year of your short life span?

      • Well, they should be afraid. Because I'm going to kick their asses for their ignorance!

        (*blend to underwater lair under a volcano*)
        Release the sha... what?... OK, the sea bass...

        MUHAHAHAAAA

      • by Zombywuf (1064778) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @11:26AM (#29163755)

        He didn't say he'd forgotten it because he was simply doing what his job description told him to do. He was called into a room with a dozen people he didn't know, he refused to hand over the password to these people. When a single person (the mayor) who was authorized to know the password asked for it, he handed it over without hesitation.

      • Also, is a partial "moral victory" really worth an entire year of your short life span?

        Is these times? Fuck yes.

    • by LordKronos (470910) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @09:18AM (#29162971) Homepage

      We need special technical trials for things like this within which both the defence and prosecution are allowed to bring in technical witnesses to put the case into perspective for non-technical people

      Huh? Special technical trials? Why? The current system already allows lawyers to bring in expert witnesses [wikipedia.org] to explain stuff. And lawyers are allowed to do a bit of story telling during their opening and closing arguments, and they can use that opportunity to explain thing in other terms (including car analogies, if they choose).

      A lot of us around here always complain about legislature creating special laws to make illegal things that are already illegal under an existing law. Let's not turn it around and start asking for special trials when the cases can already be accommodated by the existing court system.

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @09:46AM (#29163159)

        Huh? Special technical trials? Why? The current system already allows lawyers to bring in expert witnesses to explain stuff. And lawyers are allowed to do a bit of story telling during their opening and closing arguments, and they can use that opportunity to explain thing in other terms (including car analogies, if they choose).

        Once upon a time a "jury of your peers" really meant peers, and not just the most easily swayed people in the jury pool. I'm not saying every single person on the jury needs to be a network engineer, but you can pretty much count on the prosecutor objecting to anyone in the pool with any technical expertise relevant to the case.

        So, not special trials per se, but a process that rules out anyone with domain knowledge relevant to the trial is fundamentally broken. The number of really bad car analogies that get made here everyday among the relatively technically astute should be proof enough that requiring the issues to be dumbed down for an uneducated jury is not a very good way to run the system.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          So, not special trials per se, but a process that rules out anyone with domain knowledge relevant to the trial is fundamentally broken. The number of really bad car analogies that get made here everyday among the relatively technically astute should be proof enough that requiring the issues to be dumbed down for an uneducated jury is not a very good way to run the system.

          So in a medical misconduct trial you want 12 doctors on the jury, able to understand the medical evidence? In a copyright infringement trial, you want 12 copyright experts which inevitably have tight links to the copyright industry on the jury? I certainly don't think you'd want 12 policemen with domain knowledge on what police work involves in a trial about excessive police violence.

          I'm not saying it's perfect, but it's better than any other system we've tried. Honestly, if you compare it to the 1700s when

          • So, not special trials per se, but a process that rules out anyone with domain knowledge relevant to the trial is fundamentally broken.

            So in a medical misconduct trial you want 12 doctors on the jury, able to understand the medical evidence?

            Possibly. But the GP's term "domain knowledge" can mean different things: you don't necessarily have to have specific knowledge of the particular fields involved in a trial to be a better juror. Honestly, a jury with a basic understanding of scientific method, and an adequate command of math and statistics would help a lot. Is that asking too much?

          • by laron (102608)
            So in a medical misconduct trial you want 12 doctors on the jury, able to understand the medical evidence? JWR was talking about that the current system would exclude any doctor (in practice probably everyone who knows the difference between Eustachian and Fallopian tubes) from the jury in such a case.
          • by sjames (1099)

            One can take peer too far either way. Certainly we can't compose juries entirely of other defendants for the same trial, but by the same token, having people who don't even understand what you're supposed to have done or what you should have done (or not done) instead isn't good either.

            Perhaps a medical misconduct trial shouldn't have 12 doctors as jurors, but it shouldn't have NO doctors as jurors either. It surely shouldn't be composed of 12 illiterate professional ditch diggers who couldn't figure out ho

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          Once upon a time a "jury of your peers" really meant peers, and not just the most easily swayed people in the jury pool. I'm not saying every single person on the jury needs to be a network engineer, but you can pretty much count on the prosecutor objecting to anyone in the pool with any technical expertise relevant to the case.

          The issues here isn't really technical. It can much easier be explained as in a matter of general security. Let say some people who you didn't know called you into a room at your

    • by MrKaos (858439) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @09:34AM (#29163077) Journal

      This sounds like a classic story if ignorant people making decisions about technical crime and getting scared. I aim that both at the city and at the judge who set the original bail.

      There is a saying, There is no such thing as a bad student only a bad teacher. If the legal system is ignorant about how 'technical crime' should be addressed it's because we, as technology professionals, have failed to lobby for the appropriate changes to be made to law to handle these cases properly.

      We need special technical trials for things like this within which both the defence and prosecution are allowed to bring in technical witnesses to put the case into perspective for non-technical people (as opposed to "HACKER! Get the pitch forks!").

      Why? The framework for all of these things already exist in the legal system. All this world changing technology has been unleashed over the last decade or two and Information Technology is maturing as a profession. It's a bit unrealistic to expect the legal system to make quality decisions about how the law should be adapted to handle those changes while the people responsible for delivering the technology do not get involved in educating those who can codify the law to behave reasonably.

      It ridicules us to point the finger and say 'look at how ignorant they are' when in reality we should be more self critical and understand that this is the treatment we should expect if we are too apathetic to influence the legal system appropriately.

      • by Yetihehe (971185) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @10:09AM (#29163299)

        There is a saying, There is no such thing as a bad student only a bad teacher.

        You haven't seen some people who don't want and/or are incapable of learning the most basic scientific facts. Yes, you could spend with them 5x the normal time for normal student, but is it really worth it? We need someone to clean the streets, and really intelligent ambitious people don't really want to do it. Typical street cleaner doesn't need to know what an Ohm's law is.

        • by MrKaos (858439)

          You haven't seen some people who don't want and/or are incapable of learning the most basic scientific facts.

          That is irrelevant because the target audience is layers and politicians. They have to be educated or, at the very least, ambitious to be able to perform their work. They don't need all of the details, just the executive summary of the consequences and recommendations of how they should act to achieve the appropriate outcome.

          You are not talking to the masses here, you are talking to a select group

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 23, 2009 @03:19PM (#29165483)

            I have to disagree with your entire statement. Lawyers are busy people, a lot the local ones are my clients.

            They don't have time to learn more about anything other than law.
            There is no way to educate someone who doesn't have a desire to learn, or who has themselves convinced that they don't have time to learn.

            Some of my clients ask for my opinion on cases, and I've been an expert witness on 2.

            One good example is this one. A local kid "cracked" into his schools (completely unprotected) "teacher only" network share and looked at his grades, then told the "network administrator" (read:80year old librarian) about the security issue.

            A month later, some grades were changed in this system (still unprotected to this day btw) and they threw the book at this kid.

            I can access this system from the parking lot, with my cell phone.

            After explaining this to the court, the prosecutor still insisted that the kid must have hacked into the system because of half of an answer to a single question,

            Lawyer : "Are you suggesting that any one member of the jury could have done this easily?"
            Me: "Probably not, but" >> "Thank you, no further questions."

            When the expert witnesses get cut off in the middle of their explanations, how in the hell are we supposed to educate anyone?

            Fyi, the kid was released because someone else went in and deleted the entire network share while he was still in jail.

            • Lawyer : "Are you suggesting that any one member of the jury could have done this easily?" Me: "Probably not, but" >> "Thank you, no further questions."

              When the expert witnesses get cut off in the middle of their explanations, how in the hell are we supposed to educate anyone?

              Unfortunately a better answer with the method the courts use would be "I can't speculate as to their knowledge of computer systems." You have to give a non-answer to a question you can't possibly know the answer to, so the lawyer has to re-phrase the question so it's not so loaded.

            • When the expert witnesses get cut off in the middle of their explanations, how in the hell are we supposed to educate anyone?

              Competent cross-examination?

            • by Trahloc (842734)
              I'm glad that "someone else" deleted the entire share while he was in jail. I'm also glad that person didn't get caught. It's unfortunate they weren't able to have their say in court though.
            • by MrKaos (858439)

              I have to disagree with your entire statement. Lawyers are busy people, a lot the local ones are my clients.

              There are many forums [aclu.org] to conduct the business of shaping democracy. This is their *business*, ask them, show an interest in being part of the democratic process that shapes laws. I'm sure the attitude will change.

              They don't have time to learn more about anything other than law.

              So have you actually taken the time to formulate an effective question in you mind so you don't waste their time when you a

          • you forgot the jury...
    • by mpe (36238)
      We need special technical trials for things like this within which both the defence and prosecution are allowed to bring in technical witnesses to put the case into perspective for non-technical people (as opposed to "HACKER! Get the pitch forks!").

      It's already possible to bring in such people, they are known as "expert witnesses". The issue here is more the lack of a prompt trial. Maybe what's needed is a rule along the lines that someone is automatically found "not guilty" if their trial does not start
      • by DavidTC (10147)

        Most people delay their own trial. He could have had one before this point.

        Of course, the reason they're delaying it is that the cost of an attorney keeps rising, so the cheap ones are working on fifty cases at once. (And you don't want to know how many cases court-appointed ones are working on.)

        We need to demand that people actually are given actual representation in a timely manner.

    • Plus 1M bail? Is he a violent criminal? ...

      Five million dollars in bail, actually. And bail is based not only on the crime, but also on the person's resources and ability to leave. It's a discouragement to skip out on the trial.

  • Actual crime (Score:2, Interesting)

    by somanyrobots (1334451)

    Shocking! The charge that sticks is the only one related to what he actually did wrong! I know the "City of San Francisco" is royally pissed, but even if they're throwing the book at him they have an obligation to stay within the bounds of fact.

    I hope he's let off the hook, personally. The damage he's done to his career (who'll hire a DBA who would hijack the whole network?) is probably enough punishment even by itself. And the details of the offense (hostage-taking to avoid a pink slip) are sufficient

    • Re:Actual crime (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GaryOlson (737642) <slashdot@garyol s o n.org> on Sunday August 23, 2009 @08:52AM (#29162905) Journal

      ...sufficient to keep him from being hired...

      After this thorough exposure and experience with the legal profession, law firms should be recruiting him. Not to mention his arrogance and narrow focus on a crucial point of fact indicates he would fit well in with lawyers of the same personality traits.

    • Re:Actual crime (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dbIII (701233) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @09:07AM (#29162943)

      And the details of the offense (hostage-taking to avoid a pink slip)

      I'm not really sure that makes sense either but we should know soon. It really just looks like management that was so spectacularly bad that they called in the police to handle a simple workplace dispute. It should have been escalated up the chain away from these clowns to some form of adult supervision before calling in the police.
      Just a bit of wild speculation here, but it will be very interesting to find out if the inexperienced "IT security" person that sparked all this off is a relative or lover of the new management that handled this all so badly. If I found a complete stranger wandering about removing hard drives containing sensitive information I would be asking rude questions, taking photos and making threats about calling the police as well. The only way you tell a surprise security audit from a robbery is by having someone known within the company follow them around to avoid STUPID situations like this. If a manager can't get anyone or do it themselves they really have to put in their notice and get a job with less responsibility.
      Very wild speculation here, but wouldn't it be funny if the entire thing was revenge for making the new manager's mistress cry?

      • Re:Actual crime (Score:5, Informative)

        by dbIII (701233) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @11:10AM (#29163651)
        I withdraw my wild accusation. The security officer was promoted internally to the post and when she rang the CIO to complain about being caught doing what she was previously not authorised to do it doesn't mean she knew him personally. It's looking like office politics that has been mismanaged so badly that it has been allowed to escape into the legal system with some incredibly wild claims to stop it looking like an over-reaction, just triggered by an employee that wouldn't do what he was told without a reason. The secret promotion thing was just too weird, I would expect at least an email saying "your new computer security officer appointed today is X, please assist her in her work" instead of secret security audits by someone secretly assigned to the position. That shows a both a spectacular level of distrust of employees and poor management.
        It really looks like he made someone angry and they decided to put him in jail in revenge.
    • Re:Actual crime (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sun.Jedi (1280674) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @12:28PM (#29164207) Journal
      First, switch CISSP with DBA.

      Lets not forget...
      1. 1. The network he was unable to attend to (because of being jailed inappropriately) ran FINE in his absence. He has skills, and previous descriptions indicate this is not a simple network.
      2. 2. He stuck to his beliefs. I think this is a good quality, especially considering it cost him his freedom for a period of time.
      3. 3. In spite of the negative connotations of imprisonment, I'm sure there is educational value from his situation.
      4. 4. In my personal opinion, from whats been published, management screwed the pooch on this one, he did the right thing, in several situations.

      I would hire him.

    • (who'll hire a DBA who would hijack the whole network?)

      He isn't a DBA, he's in charge of the network, and I'd hire him if I had need for that level of admin. He didn't hijack the network, either - he did what he did with the knowledge and consent of his higherups, largely because his coworkers were incompetent.

  • by mpapet (761907) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @08:47AM (#29162889) Homepage

    I opined on the last story that he was playing the 'power game' from the bottom of the political strata. By most accounts he was at the top of the network knowledge, so a technically important guy. 'Network God' doesn't translate into political power and he got burned.

    But what else is in the plea deal? I can't help but think there's waaaay more to the story given the political heat this guy brought on himself. Maybe the plea deal keeps him quiet?

    • Plea? What plea? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bacon Bits (926911) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @10:16AM (#29163341)

      The defense made a motion challenging the evidence and the judge agreed that there was not sufficient evidence to support 3 of the 4 charges. There was no plea here. The court threw out the state's allegations for lack of evidence. There was no evidence because what he did was probably not sufficient as a matter of law (a matter of fact would probably have been decided by a jury). The charges were merely trumped up. Fabricated. Lies.

      And yet they still kept this man in jail for a year awaiting trial for a ridiculous amount of bail money for a non-violent crime.

  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @08:52AM (#29162903)

    Link to an old Slashdot story that then links to an archive page that doesn't even have the word Childs on it.

    You have to go to page three of the archive to find the bloody interview [infoworld.com]!

    Why the hell is it so difficult to provide direct links to the actual articles?

    • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @08:55AM (#29162909)

      *sigh*

      Apparently that wasn't the interview either. Where the hell is that interview?

      It's like watching cable news doing a circle jerk talking about how a twitter post talks about a blog post that mentions an article that refers to an interview where the reporter asks a question about something, but no one even cares about showing the relevant clip!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        It's like watching cable news doing a circle jerk talking about how a twitter post talks about a blog post that mentions an article that refers to an interview where the reporter asks a question about something, but no one even cares about showing the relevant clip!

        They do that kind of thing on the news all the time. When they do, it is always a sign that they want you to blindly accept what they are telling you. They will tell you about a hundred times what the video clip shows and then finally show it to you after they've programmed you to accept their version of events.

        Not saying that's what's happening here, but when someone hides the facts from me, I assume they are acting nefariously. Incompetence qualifies, if you are behaving as if you had a clue.

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          That's fox news, CNN and CNBC.

          I dont see that happening on NPR or other reputable new sources.

          People need to stop watching the Equivalent of the national Enquirer for their news.

          • by Zak3056 (69287) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @11:08AM (#29163629) Journal

            I dont see that happening on NPR or other reputable new sources.

            NPR doesn't show video clips at all. :)

            All kidding aside, I think you have your blinders on. I listen to NPR for, on average, an hour a day (most of my morning and evening commutes) and while I find them to be superior to most other news outlets other than the BBC, there have been plenty of times that I've noticed them talking about something at length, before playing the source material (and sometimes they don't play the source material at all), which is the exact behavior that the GP described. I also listen to right wing talk radio, and while the entire reason that they seem to exist is to program responses into people, their methods of doing so are a bit different. Someone like Limbaugh or Hannity absolutely loves playing soundbites (original source material in this case) over, and over, and over, but they're often taken out of context or referencing a slightly (in some cases completely) different subject.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by sjames (1099)

            It's really sad that these days the best source of news on American television is a comedian who makes no attempt at journalistic integrity.

            So much so that people who ARE supposed to be journalists immediatly go on the defensive when they interview him (and so make asses of themselves).

  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @09:02AM (#29162929) Homepage

    I don't have to read the article to know that. If the charges were dropped, the prosecutor would not be vowing to appeal. When a judge gets rid of charges, they're dismissed. When a prosecutor voluntarily gets rid of charges, then they're dropped.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @09:18AM (#29162973) Homepage
    It's a little known fact that prosecutors cannot be sued for anything they do in court [reason.com] to a defendant. Prosecutors are truly the worst part of the system since they are unaccountable to the public and are rewarded for getting convictions, not enforcing the law wisely. As a profession, they are so corrupt that they make civil lawyers look sympathetic since civil lawyers are at least limiting themselves to cases where you can kinda sorta see how their client was genuinely harmed.
    • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @09:34AM (#29163085)

      It's a little known fact that prosecutors cannot be sued for anything they do in court [reason.com] to a defendant. Prosecutors are truly the worst part of the system since they are unaccountable to the public and are rewarded for getting convictions, not enforcing the law wisely. As a profession, they are so corrupt that they make civil lawyers look sympathetic since civil lawyers are at least limiting themselves to cases where you can kinda sorta see how their client was genuinely harmed.

      Most prosecutors answer to the District Attorney, and can be fired by the DA almost at will. The District Attorney is an elected official. In those cases where the prosecutor doesn't answer to the elected District Attorney (or essentially the same office with a different title), they answer to the elected head of the of the executive branch of whatever level of government they represent (Mayor, Governor, President, etc). If your local prosecutors are loose cannons, campaign against their boss.
      The only reason that prosecutors appear to be unaccountable to the public is because the public doesn't pay enough attention to local politics/civics

  • The article doesn't specify what the actual remaining charge is, only that it's about not revealing the network passwords.

    Can someone explain how not revealing a password is actually illegal? Contempt of court?

  • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @10:05AM (#29163281)
    Here's a chunk of the SF password policy, shamelessly taken from a post by Jeana Pieralde at http://www.burbed.com/2008/07/15/terry-childs-and-the-san-francisco-fiberwan-computer-network/ [burbed.com]

    "Password Policy"
    As such, all County employees (including contractors, vendors, and temporary staff with access to County systems) are responsible for taking the appropriate steps, as outlined below, to select and secure their passwords.
    All system-level passwords (e.g., root, enable, NT admin, application administration accounts, etc.) must be changed on at least a monthly basis"
    "Do not share County passwords with anyone, including administrative assistants or secretaries.

    All passwords are to be treated as sensitive, confidential County information.

    Here is a list of things to avoid
    -Telling your boss your password.
    -Talking about a password in front of others.
    -Telling your co-workers your passwordwhile on vacation."

    http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/dtis/coit/Policies_Forms/CCISDA_security.pdf

    So announcing it at a meeting was right out.
    The person that should have taken this all into hand and resulted in a normal dismissal instead of an arrest is Chris Vein. He was originally an accountant but many CIOs are and some manage to pick up management skills and familiarity with technology along the way.
    Here is what http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=4692 [zdnet.com] says about him:

    San Francisco's CIO Chris Vein calls himself an "accidental CIO." His background includes working in and around the White House during Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations. For the city of San Francisco, Vein's political background has turned out to be an important asset.

    It's still possible he got there by merit, but it starting to look like a political appointment. On his linkedin page he describes himself as "Delivering strong and effective leadership", which often means someone that fires people for no good reason to show they are "strong" but maybe I've just seen too many bastards in action that like that word. These things may give an insight or maybe not, but the end result of getting the police involved in a workplace dispute demonstrates to me that he is not paticularly effective, let alone the situation where there was only one person that could do the job. BTW San Francisco, do you have your free WiFi from 2006 yet? If not you now know the name of the guy that was in charge of delivering it.

    • One more bit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dbIII (701233) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @10:14AM (#29163333)
      From http://www.linkedin.com/pub/chris-vein/7/110/71b [linkedin.com] you can see that Chris Vein was a senior advisor at the White House after only three years in the workforce! I do not think such a rise is possible by merit or desirable in an honest government.
      I hope this case looks deeply at the motivations behind getting the police involved. I'm also extremely curious as to what the $1million that has to be spent to repair the "damage" is required for and hope the defence and judge push hard for an explanation of this unusual claim
      • I'm also extremely curious as to what the $1million that has to be spent to repair the "damage" is required for and hope the defence and judge push hard for an explanation of this unusual claim

        It's a bullshit claim, I'm sure. Such things are always vastly inflated so as to make law enforcement believe that a serious crime was committed. The old Bell System did that when a couple of (ahem!) "hackers" released some supposedly confidential internal documents back in the early eighties (if I remember correctly.) They were claimed to be worth some insane amount of money, when it turned out that anyone could order them for a couple of bucks. There's also a degree of ass-covering involved in situations

    • The person that should have taken this all into hand and resulted in a normal dismissal instead of an arrest is Chris Vein.

      Of course, had he actually been a good manager, there probably would have been no need for any of this, much less a dismissal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jim Hall (2985)

      On his linkedin page he describes himself as "Delivering strong and effective leadership", which often means someone that fires people for no good reason to show they are "strong" but maybe I've just seen too many bastards in action that like that word.

      I'm not defending this person at all, but I wanted to disagree with you on this point. I'm a senior IT manager, and I would describe myself as delivering strong and effective leadership. What strong and effective leadership means to me is helping people to reach the next level (where interested) and achieve their personal goals, while matching the right skills in the right people to the right problems. I bring people together, and have proven myself particularly effective in getting opposite sides to come t

      • by dbIII (701233)
        I'm mostly commenting on poor managers that describe themselves this way while others will describe them very differently. There is often a desire to be seen to make a change and look "strong" and the easiest way for an incompetant manager to do this is to fire someone and pointlessly incur disruption and costs. They get the implication of force and not the concept of good management.
  • by raybob (203381)

    for sys/net admins is to keep in the back of your mind that your actions can be scrutinized somewhere down the line, even if you are the most conscientious, morally upright employee.

    If you work in an environment where you are the key technical resource, and others don't have the chops to safely manage the systems you designed/built, you still need to be sure that you put mechanisms in place to track access first, and then you need to provide equivalent access as agreed with management, to other administrato

  • This is crazy! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by samuX (623423)
    i did not know about this case so i went up looking back to all the story and trying to figure out what happened i've runned across these two that explain a bit http://www.infoworld.com/d/adventures-in-it/why-san-franciscos-network-admin-went-rogue-286?page=0,0 [infoworld.com] http://www.infoworld.com/d/data-management/childs-attempt-protect-network-password-gone-awry-978 [infoworld.com] What i'm now missing is what were his duties in the contract and who he had to provide those passwords. this document http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploaded [sfgov.org]
    • the point was that the manager wasn't properly trained to have those passwords, and had already accused him of "hacking" and disrupting the network in the few days between demanding the passwords in a meeting and calling the cops. Childs was fucked over if he turned them over because if anything broke it would have been "Childs" fault for not turning the password over, then for not leaving instructions to use the password, then for not describing the configuration, then for doing something "off-script" fro

  • by synthesizerpatel (1210598) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @02:42PM (#29165221)

    Really the classic bit of this story is how the prosecutors included a list of usernames and passwords in their court filing which couldn't have been a better home-run for the defense in terms of 'See what happens when you give the passwords out to these idiots?'.

    A year of his life gone though.. This should be a cautionary tale for any IT person.. When things get so bad that you're angry and not making good decisions.. just quit. Find somewhere else, relax. A job at burger king is better than going to prison.

  • by MoFoQ (584566) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @03:46PM (#29165681)

    misleading title...as the charges weren't "dropped," they were dismissed by the Judge (yes...I rtfa).

    "Dropped" implies that the prosecutor did the "dropping," either due to a plea bargain or because the lack of evidence.

    plus I don't like how the Examiner "labels" Childs as a hacker....he was the f*cking sysadmin and essentially the father/protector of the city's fiberWAN.
    Especially considering the incompetence with computers and network security policies and practices by other city workers, he was considered the messiah/scapegoat.
    (definitely, among those of us who have had to deal with the city govt)

    there are plenty of other fish that the prosecutor(s) can fry that are worth the frying.

    oh, btw, I can't get the triangle button to add a tag to work anymore.

  • To start with normally crimes involve doing something wrong not in failing to do something right. Secondly if the man was fired and then asked to hand over a password he has no obligation at all to his former employer. If he was asked to reveal his password before he was fired and failed to do so then the remedy is to fire him and perhaps to sue him in a civil court. The fact that his failure to reveal his password was expensive to others is irrelevant. This man should sue for false arrest.

  • The thing I don't get is how refusing to give away the password is a crime. Even if he was wrong to refuse to give it away when asked (which is unclear), that would be grounds for dismissal and a civil suit to obtain the password and/or damages, but I fail to see what criminal offence he might have committed. None of the articles that I have seen explain this. Anybody know what exactly the remaining charge is?

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