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European Law Could Give Hackers Mimimum Two-Year Sentence 147

judgecorp writes "A proposed European law would apply a minimum two-year prison sentence for hacking across the region. This is a step up for nations including Britain, whose Computer Misuse Act currently has a two-year maximum sentence."
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European Law Could Give Hackers Mimimum Two-Year Sentence

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  • Minimum Sentences (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @07:45PM (#39502943)

    Judges hate minimum sentences. Legislators should stop making them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @07:47PM (#39502959)

    Does "Hacking" include typing the URL wrong?

  • by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @07:49PM (#39502973)
    From the article:

    The proposal also targets tools used to commit offences: the production or sale of devices such as computer programs designed for cyber-attacks, or which find a computer password by which an information system can be accessed, would constitute criminal offences.

    So, what would the scope of such a prohibition be? Would pen testing tools commonly used by security professionals be prohibited in Europe? Would you need a license to possess or use such tools? This sounds like an overreaching law. And since when did the European parliament get the authority to impose mandatory minimum prison sentences in its member nations?

  • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @07:51PM (#39502987) Homepage Journal

    I used wireshark to fix a bug today. Apparently I would be a criminal in the UK, with a minimum sentence of 2 years.

    This is fucked.

  • by NemoinSpace ( 1118137 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @07:51PM (#39502995) Journal
    Should be illegal for the government.
  • by elucido ( 870205 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @07:58PM (#39503075)

    Minimum sentences as well as private prisons should be entirely unconstitutional.

  • by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:00PM (#39503103)

    Judges hate minimum sentences. Legislators should stop making them.

    Yeah, you can see how this will go wrong. Someone finds an open facebook at a netcafe, and decide to post some dopey comment on the unsuspecting security-ignoramasus page. The person flips out and calls the cops, and the cops charge him, because technically it is hacking.

    The judge hears the case and goes "Well I have to find this guy guilty, and normally I'd give him a $50 fine and tell him to quit being a dick, but instead he's going to jail for 2 years and having the rest of his life ruined because of a harmless prank.

    Yes indeed, theres a very good reason judges hate mandatory minimums.

  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:05PM (#39503163)

    I have a suspicion that they will count jailbreaking/bypassing DRM as hacking too. It's just a small step from outlawing IP spoofing.
    How about sentencing hackers based on the damage they have done instead of another witchhunt against technology?
    Only demonstrating a vulnerability: no sentence or a few month of community service; destroying data or sabotaging systems: monetary fine based on the losses that occurred if the guy can't pay then prison; stealing and selling or making public user data: long long years of prison.

  • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:08PM (#39503193)
    Simpletons are the only ones who like mandatory minimums. You have a mechanism to investigate crimes on a case-by-case basis, looking at all the evidence, the factors that went into the crime, and setting the punishment to fit the case. That's the job of the courts. It's not perfect, but one-size-fits-all justice is usually not justice. The mandatory minimum sentence should be zero in ALL crimes.
  • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:17PM (#39503283)

    >>>since when did the European parliament get the authority to impose mandatory minimum prison sentences in its member nations?

    Since when did the American congress get the authority to impose mandatory minimum prison sentences on its member states' courts? ANSWER: When both the parliament and congress usurped the power through decree. This is the natural progession from a union of independent states into a central authority that tries to control everything down to the smallest level (even your home).

    At least in the U.S. we have a 10th amendment and a Supreme Court which forbids congress from exercising powers never granted to it (such as nullifying the mandate forcing individuals to buy insurance). I am unware of a similar mechanism to check the power of the EU parliament, so their power will continually grow and grow. An "ever-closer union" until all laws come from Brussels.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:33PM (#39503477)

    when i was 16 while learning how to program i created a cheating engine for an online game which i was then arrested and charged for at 18 under the computer misuse act. as it stood i was given a £300 fine and some community service, considrring i was unaware of the fact breaking TOS was illegal (i was a kid, and cheats have always been in games, or things like gameshark that injected into games so i consider
    ed it akin to that) hoeever this new law would have seen me goto prison for two years.

    this is just a stupidly thought out blanket law in my opinion. hopefully it doesnt go through or thrre will be a big spree of teenagers in jail for petty things like that.

  • by sqrt(2) ( 786011 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @09:12PM (#39503813) Journal

    The death penalty for murder hasn't ended murder in the US. There is strong evidence that it hasn't even reduced the rates (comparing murder rates among populations in states that have and don't have the death penalty). Being killed by the state is a much higher risk than two years in prison, and even that doesn't work, so why would you believe a lesser deterrent would be effective if the ultimate penalty isn't even enough?

  • by Skidborg ( 1585365 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @09:37PM (#39503979)

    Of course part of that is that the "death penalty" is more of a "rot in prison for a decade or two and then we might kill you penalty", and by the time the executioners get around to offing anybody the public has completely forgotten about both the original crime and the murderer, and the execution doesn't even make the news.

    A punishment of any kind can't serve as a warning to would-be criminals if it's carried out in a way that nobody knows or cares about.

  • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @09:58PM (#39504135)
    Which is an argument that it should be abolished, since rushing the job and massively increasing the risk of executing an innocent person is not an option.
  • by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @02:18AM (#39505559) Journal

    Yes, you, a reasonable person with neither an axe to grind or a political point to make.

    But in reality, things like"I've had too many of these stupid hacks screwing up the wifi at the coffee shop I go to. Find the guy doing it and nail his balls to the wall for 2 years." Or it's a funny hack that goes viral, giving it lots of publicity, so the prosecutor has to follow through "because it's the law and we don't want to encourage this behaviour".

  • by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @02:50AM (#39505737) Homepage

    Minimum sentences are pure insanity and pandering to the voters.

    The problem is that it takes away the option of the prosecutor and judge to give fair sentences, and forces them to hand out minimum sentences for cases where the minimum sentence was never intended.

    Examples are plentiful everywhere they have been implemented. 10 year prison for teenager for taking nude pictures of themselves, 4 year prison for _reporting_ child-pornography on web to the police (reporter have it cached on your computer, so in his possession)... The list goes on, it should be unconstitutional to protect politicians from being tempted to introduce this insanity.

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall