I know that the US justice system (see, no sarky inverted commas. I’m officially less bitchy than James Taranto…) works on a principle of scaring defendants shitless with the world’s largest ever potential sentences, so that they agree to plead guilty. This saves the expense of a trial, not to mention the difficulty of convincing a jury that the defendant actually did the crime.
But even a potential sentence of 471 years for hacking someone’s email account to send baseball-related abuse seems somewhat harsh. Sure, he’ll plea-bargain and it’ll be knocked down to a few years in jail… but what’s the point of that?
Hackers and spammers are mildly annoying. I’m always astonished by people who find them more than mildly annoying… there really are more important things to worry about. I’m also actively amused by IT security people who dislike them, even though the IT security
conspiracy industry wouldn’t get the opportunity to extort vast amounts of money from every business going without the 7337 h4xx0rz’ efforts.
The suggestion that hackers can be dangerous, life-threatening terrorists (not that that was even the case here) is particularly wrong-headed. If you’ve got a life-critical IT system, don’t connect it to the Internet! If I’m ever in an intensive care ward, I’ll happily ignore the urge to check my Hotmail using my life support machine. Nor is it a good idea to connect nuclear power station safety systems to the net so that Homer Simpson-a-likes can monitor them from home…
At worst, hacking should be a money-costing crime. If it goes beyond that, then this is the fault of the idiots who built the relevant systems. And the monetary cost of most hacking (as opposed to virus writing) incidents is so close to zero that prosecuting them is an utter waste of everybody’s time and money.
As for the guy in the article – rather than wasting taxpayer cash keeping him in jail, how about forcing him to support the Red Sox? That way, he’ll never get miffed that his team nearly made the playoffs.