Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Government Admits They Were Wrong In Whistleblowing Spammer Case

from the sorry-about-that dept

Back in August we wrote about the case of a guy who had been put in jail for discover a security hole at an ISP he had worked for and then spammed all their customers to tell them after the ISP didn't fix the hole. As we mentioned, spamming all the customers was not particular smart, but he wasn't charged with spamming. He was charged with "impairing the integrity" of a network, which is silly. He didn't impair the integrity of the network - he just pointed out where the hole was. Now, after the guy spent 18 months in jail, the government is finally admitting that (whoops) they made a mistake, and are asking the judge to "vacate" the felony conviction.

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    LittleW0lf, 14 Oct 2003 @ 5:46pm


    I am glad that the government wised up and abdicated their position that McDanel did something wrong. However, I don't think this was vindication for McDanel, who still served his entire term in prison, and whom will even with the reversal of the conviction, still have to live the rest of his life fighting the demons of trying to get a job with employers who are unwilling to trust him for being a resident of FedPen, even though he was cleared of the charges.

    As I said back in August 2002, this whole situation is ridiculous (yes, I mis-spelled it then...), but very common. Though this was the first case I knew of where an individual was arrested and convicted of the crime of making other customers aware of a problem which the company failed to fix, I myself have been threatened by companies in the past for disclosing vulnerabilities in their hardware/software, and it seems to be a growing trend that instead of calling the security engineers, the first knee-jerk reaction to a vulnerability disclosure is to call the police. I hope that if any more of these cases are brought to trial, this will serve as case-law to prevent those accused from suffering the same misguided punishment that McDanel suffered.

    Those who know me know that I have a deep, and sometimes perverted (yes, I know that word isn't right, but it is the closest word I can think of to describe what I am trying to say,) love for the law. And even with this love for the law, I still find this case to be disgusting since it in itself is the ultimate corruption of the law, using the legal system to protect a companies flawed image instead of dealing with the flaw and moving on. I just hope nobody else has to suffer this abuse of the law (I know, a daily occurance in many cases.)

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

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