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The Courts IT Your Rights Online

Fate of Terry Childs Now In Jury's Hands 530

snydeq writes "Closing arguments concluded Monday in the city of San Francisco's case against Terry Childs, the network administrator charged with violating California hacking laws by refusing to hand over network passwords for the city's FiberWAN during a 12-day period in 2008. Childs was charged in July 2008 and has been held on $5 million bail ever since. The highly technical trial, which featured testimony from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Cisco Chief Security Officer John Stewart, has dragged on for nearly six months. By Monday, five of the 18 jurors and alternates selected for the trial had dropped out, and the remaining jurors seemed relieved to see the arguments wrap up as they left the courtroom Monday afternoon. They will return Tuesday to start their deliberations. Childs faces five years in prison if he is convicted for disrupting service to the city's computer system by withholding administrative passwords — a verdict that, if rendered, puts all IT admins in danger."
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Fate of Terry Childs Now In Jury's Hands

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  • by trurl7 ( 663880 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @03:44PM (#31914566)

    ...before posting. The frenzy's already started. People - there's a long story here. Do not rely on this summary to tell you the details. Don't litter the thread with inane "he broke the law and should pay" comments. Your fellow non-readers in-spirit have done so on a minimum of twenty prior threads on this issue.

    Please, please learn the backstory before commenting. Think of the children. Plus, some readers are getting on in years (35+). They can't handle the spiking blood pressure.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by trurl7 ( 663880 )

      Ok... I gotta know. Why troll? Whoever modded this - I don't mind a genuine disagreement of opinion. But seriously - I entreated the readers to actually know the story. Yes, I'm new here. But why troll? Post anonymously if you have to, but please explain - why did you think I was trolling?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Toonol ( 1057698 )
      I've read at least a dozen slashdots threads, and several articles. I've never found any decent justification for Child's behavior. Punishing him seems appropriate; I certainly would pursue charges if he had been my employee.

      It's not always the people who disagree with you who are wrong. You shouldn't assume that other people must be ignorant and inane, because they happen to come to a different conclusion. That's sloppy thinking.
  • by Minupla ( 62455 ) < minus cat> on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @04:03PM (#31914792) Homepage Journal

    I have worked for small companies in the past where I was the sole administrator. My solution to this was to store a PGP encoded file on a shared drive with the passwords in it, locked with my asymmetric key and one with a random password. Either one would open it. I put the plaintext password in an envelope, sealed it, signed the envelope and had my boss sign it. The envelope got stored in the company safe and I could inspect it at will. If the seal was intact I knew I was the only one with the passwords and was still responsible for the system. If the seal was broken, it was agreed I did not have any responsibility for damage that might have been caused.

    This gave my employers the confidence that they could recover from a disaster (hit by a bus, win the lottery, etc) and gave me the confidence that I didn't have to rule out assistance from well meaning but unskilled bosses when something broke.


  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @04:20PM (#31915030) Journal
    Anything can happen in a jury trial, but it's hard to believe that Child's will lose this thing. The district attorney needs to prove two things (at least):

    That Child's acted maliciously, that he was trying to cause harm to the network. I have seen no real evidence that supports this idea. The city tried to say that he did it to keep them from firing him.

    They also have to prove that his actions actually caused damage. This is problematic because the network never actually went down, his actions didn't cause damage. The city uses the twisted argument that the fact that they were unable to prevent Childs from accessing the network was damage enough, that Childs was the one they needed to defend against.

    I did not sit through the trial, but it's hard for me to believe that many juries would find this to be true beyond reasonable doubt.
  • He's fucked (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alexo ( 9335 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @04:24PM (#31915070) Journal

    Wait, you mean his fate is in the hands of 12 clueless "average" citizens?
    He is truly fucked.

  • Think Duress (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @05:11PM (#31915696)

    The moment Childs was threatened with jail by a credible governmental threat, then he should have surrendered the passwords.

    Dude is a hardhead.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun