Mainstream Press Waking Up To DOJ's Massive Overreaction To Minor Computer Hacks

from the omg-it's-a-computer! dept

We've talked plenty about the government abusing the CFAA to pretend that some minor hacks were some giant criminal conspiracy, but now even the mainstream press is starting to recognize that an overactive Justice Department seems so freaked out by computers that it feels the need to use the CFAA over and over again against minor hacks. We've covered the various cases mentioned in the article in the past, but it's good to see a paper such as the Washington Post call the administration out for its silly overreactions. It's as if they see a computer and assume that something bad must be happening. At no point, when it comes to these cases, does the DOJ seem to step back and look at the actual seriousness of any of these cases.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), May 1st, 2013 @ 2:32pm

    Add another felony to the list...

    If you look at someone's computer screen when they're not there, you can be found guilty of a felony.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2013 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Add another felony to the list...

    Why would you look at some screen that is not yours?

    Are you trying to hack it and get some info?

    You have to use one of those things that horses use to keep them looking straight ahead at all times.

    Incidental peeking is a crime too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2013 @ 4:48pm

    Re: Add another felony to the list...

    If your in the same room as someone entering a password you have committed a felony hacking attempt

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2013 @ 4:57pm

    DOJ's Massive Overreaction is probably based upon a fear of the unknown ... because they do not understand computers or how they work. Seems our self righteous leaders are just a bunch of xenophobic imbeciles, why are they put in positions where flippant decisions have immense repercussions?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2013 @ 5:10pm

    How?

    How could a jury go along with this and convict him?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 1st, 2013 @ 5:44pm

    Re: How?

    12 people unable to figure out how to get off a jury.
    12 people selected for not being computer literate.
    12 people with AOL addresses they are still paying for.
    12 people told a harrowing tale about how hackers could destroy the world by typing on a keyboard.
    12 people who think a prosecutor wouldn't bring forward a case without very clear compelling evidence.
    12 people who already decided the Government said he was bad, so we have to stop this terrorist.
    12 people who have yet to face the wheels of justice grinding them up because they are "Good People" (tm) and even if the law is over broad they only ever use it against "Bad People" (tm) so its ok.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    DCX2, May 1st, 2013 @ 5:44pm

    Juicy tidbit in the WaPo article...

    “You have to ask the question, what would he have done next?” said a Justice Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is under appeal. “Where would we be if we let this guy go and the next thing he did was take down a network?”


    In essence, this official admitted that the government is prosecuting him now for crimes that he has not yet committed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Mike Shore, May 1st, 2013 @ 5:54pm

    "Mainstream" media

    It's nice to see the "real" media finally covering these issues. Maybe one day they will catch up to "new" media.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2013 @ 6:39pm

    Re: Juicy tidbit in the WaPo article...

    I am sure there are people in our government that think he is guilty of crimes he has not yet committed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    horse with no name, May 1st, 2013 @ 7:45pm

    Re: Re: How?

    7 excuses why 12 people can see what the average Techdirt user is willfully blind to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2013 @ 8:41pm

    Re: Re: Add another felony to the list...

    If you install a Linux distribution, you can be found guilty of a felony.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2013 @ 9:40pm

    The government has all these secrets it needs to protect. Anyone that files FOI requests finds out fairly soon, that National Security is a major hitter with why people can't know about things.

    Our most transparent administration in US history is busy trying to jail whistle blowers for letting the cat out of the bag on things that make them look bad.

    Since all the secrets seem to be on computers now-a-days, a computer must be a bad thing, since that's seems to be the source of all leaks.

    At the rate it's going, soon owning a computer will be tantamount to an open confession of awesome computer hacking skills and the automatic guilty sentence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Grant, May 1st, 2013 @ 9:42pm

    the purpose of laws like this should be to protect the interest of citizens. I am no more protected now that some hacker is in jail than I was before. the same vulnerabilities exist whether or not they prosecute so called "hackers". If you want to protect networks from attack then work on making those networks more secure, don't throw the people who are harmlessly exposing the security flaws in jail.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2013 @ 10:55pm

    I find it ironic that email addresses are described by prosecutors as "sensitive private information" in this case, when government agencies treat it as just "digital information" out on the web with no expectancy of privacy when it suits them.
    I think we should hold them to it in the future.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 1st, 2013 @ 11:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: How?

    I begin to understand why Ken White hates ponies...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2013 @ 11:35pm

    Re: Re: Juicy tidbit in the WaPo article...

    Either that, or they're trying to stop Time-Traveling FDR from coming to kick their collective asses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2013 @ 12:12am

    Re: Re: Re: How?

    You're not a horse with no name; you're a horse with no brain.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2013 @ 12:13am

    Minor Hacks ????

    was convicted and sentenced last month to more than three years in prison for obtaining about 120,000 e-mail addresses of iPad users from AT&T’s Web site — including New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I), Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein and other prominent figures — and giving them to the Web site Gawker.

    120,000 email address, obtained illegally is a 'minor hack' !!!

    and giving those to another web site for publication is ok too I guess ??

    why don't you just present the FACTS Mick the nick ?? and let people decide for themselves.

    you downplay everything to disagree with and spin everything that you support.

    No wonder you don't call yourself a Journalist, you simply would not make a Journalists asshole.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2013 @ 12:20am

    Re: Re: How?

    None of "mick the nick's" cultists are old enough to be on a jury.

    12 people who don't believe stealing account information from 120,000 people is 'minor'!!, and using that information for gain or fame.

    only a moron would consider this 'minor', and I guess the Jury agrees.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    tracker1 (profile), May 2nd, 2013 @ 12:44am

    Re: Minor Hacks ????

    Yes.. 1 email address or a thousand is a lot less than say the banking industry has been fined for several times, with nobody serving jail time.

    It's an email address... someone knowing your email is a lot different than say a print publication putting out the physical addresses targeting a segment of the population... Oh yeah.. no fines, no imprisonment there...

    There is a scale to a crime... What is the harm done in people knowing an email address?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    horse with no mane, May 2nd, 2013 @ 12:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: How?

    Anyone who believes a jury of ones "peers" (that's laughable right there) is qualified to sit in judgment over another person has clearly never participated in one. Talk about a facepalm worthy experience that is. Pray you never find yourself subject to the whim of a group of people whom are barely qualified to pick their own noses, little alone sit on a jury. As the saying often goes: We know it's not perfect, but it's the best we can do.

    Hint: Most of them are distracted, would rather be at home or work and want to get out of there as soon as possible and/or believe their own biased views trump any facts presented. Trust me, there are plenty of good reasons why the ability to appeal is an essential part of how the judicial system works lol.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), May 2nd, 2013 @ 1:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Add another felony to the list...

    Press the power button on a computer with someone else in the room? Felony.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), May 2nd, 2013 @ 1:27am

    Re: Re: Re: How?

    "None of "mick the nick's" cultists are old enough to be on a jury. "

    That, right there, is why you are an utter moron.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), May 2nd, 2013 @ 1:29am

    Re:

    National security is a bullshit excuse that politicians hide behind when they have information they don't want the public to know because it damages them in some way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), May 2nd, 2013 @ 1:31am

    Re: Minor Hacks ????

    "why don't you just present the FACTS Mick the nick ??"

    "No wonder you don't call yourself a Journalist, you simply would not make a Journalists asshole."

    This also illustrates why you are an utter moron.

    "you downplay everything to disagree with and spin everything that you support. "

    Pot, meet kettle.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2013 @ 1:31am

    Re: Minor Hacks ????

    Isn't the fault with AT&T?

    It's simplifying the situation massively of course but essentially they didn't put a working lock on their door. They're either negligent, incompetent or both.

    Oh yeah and like the other poster mentioned, e-mail addresses only, what's the quantifiable damage?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), May 2nd, 2013 @ 2:15am

    Re: Minor Hacks ????

    120,000 email address, obtained illegally is a 'minor hack' !!!

    I thought an email address was the digital equivalent of someone's home address.

    We just don't have phone books telling people where the email addresses are.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2013 @ 2:20am

    Re: Re: How?

    to be fair, if there are 12 people who already believe the defendant is guilty on the jury, the defending attorney hasn't been doing his job properly. A potential juror already having made up his mind is a basic case of challenge for cause. (indeed, it's what challenges for cause are for.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2013 @ 2:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How?

    the reason a "jury of one's peers" is used is a holdover from England, when, before such a right was brought in, the aristocracy would frequently sit in judgement over peasants. This led to cases where cases were unfairly ruled in favor of the aristocracy, so a jury of your peers eliminates the advantage of class. ( plus, in those days the "hue and cry" system was used for law enforcement- someone did the equivalent of yelling out "stop thief" and everybody was required to chase down the alleged perpetrator. Therefore, in those days, the jury would normally be far more interested in the case)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2013 @ 2:33am

    Re:

    Likely stems from the "Anything that didn't exist when I was young is the devil" mentality many older people have.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2013 @ 2:35am

    Re: Re: Minor Hacks ????

    My guess, darryl probably thinks that the PSN hack had nothing to do with Sony's lack of security, and that Sony shouldn't have apologised either.

    Clearly working as a solar panel engineer is a cover; he obviously makes his money as a "fruit and flowers" supplier for the ARIA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2013 @ 2:50am

    Re: Minor Hacks ????

    It is a case where the threat level is completely disproportionate to the crime! 114.000 emails is a lot, but their use is very low level without password which they didn't obtain. That fact should be the primary determining factor in evaluating thread level! While Veew is an obnoxious bastard, it doesn't make it right to convict him of more than he deserves. 41 months is a very tough penalty. Call EFF and ask them about this case. It is a pretty widespread belief that the CFAA is completely disproportionate to the crime and especiall in this case, the conviction is on conspiracy, which should make the crime even less significant!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), May 2nd, 2013 @ 4:09am

    Re: Minor Hacks ????

    Wasn't this case that one the guy did it to ALERT AT&T of their security flaws and got sued because of it? Gawker, as far as I know, isn't some shady business but rather a news outfit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), May 2nd, 2013 @ 5:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Add another felony to the list...

    > If you install a Linux distribution, you can be found guilty of a felony.

    If you used bit torrent to download that Linux distribution then you have also committed the capital offense of piracy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2013 @ 5:28am

    Re:

    Yes, but the captains of industry want to charge premium prices for crap products without providing any real value or support. In order to accomplish this, they need the taxpayers to fund law enforcement in a keystone cops effort to hide their vulnerabilities from exposure. It sort of boils down to - if you see something, don't say anything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2013 @ 5:33am

    Re: Minor Hacks ????

    Two sets of rules ... high court - low court.
    Please stop with your righteous indignation crapola. If you really believed that tripe, you would have blown a gasket over the banksters latest heist. You look to be a one trick pony.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2013 @ 5:58am

    Re: Re: Re: How?

    Shounldn't your name be "Horse with no Brain"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2013 @ 6:00am

    Re: Re: Re: How?

    "None of "mick the nick's" cultists are old enough to be on a jury."

    Who's "mick the nick"?
    If this is an attempt to be clever, boy, it fails miserably, as usual.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    Rapnel (profile), May 2nd, 2013 @ 8:01am

    Re: Minor Hacks ????

    It was a harvest of readily available information.

    The fact that this bloke received a sentence of three years for, effectively, blowing the whistle is not only a travesty of justice but an indictment on the rule of law itself.

    If anything AT&T should be held accountable for "making available".

    This law and justice thing is rapidly turning into a fucking joke. Rapidly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    Jesse (profile), May 2nd, 2013 @ 8:26am

    Re: Re: How?

    Exactly. It's unfair to charge the innocent. If he was charged, he must be guilty.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), May 2nd, 2013 @ 9:23am

    Re: Minor Hacks ????

    What was taken has no bearing on whether or not hacking has occurred.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Greggore, May 2nd, 2013 @ 11:13am

    How can a Lawyer become of Judge for IT cases

    Really modern Judges and Lawyers only know law and that's it. A large portion of the General public knows more about Computers than members of the Judicial system. If you don't fully understand it, how can anyone take your judgement or case seriously? Add when the Judicial process finally makes a ruling on a case, often the technology is long gone, migrated away or evolved into something else...which of course the public knows more about than they will ever know.

    Carmen Ortiz should have been prosecuted for what she did to Swartz...and the jury is still out on that one.... the ruling will just be a decade too late.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This