Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Trojan Defense Works Again

from the it's-happening-every-where dept

That's it. If you ever get arrested for any type of crime that involves a computer, your defense is clear: "it wasn't me, it was a secret trojan horse that got installed on my computer." It's worked for someone accused of child porn and for someone accused of tax fraud. And, now, it's worked for the kid accused of the kid accused of doing a denial of service attack on the Port of Houston. The defense worked, despite the prosecution bringing up an expert who claimed there was no evidence anyone had hacked into the guy's computer. In all of these cases, who knows who's right. The law clearly says they're innocent, and perhaps they really are innocent (the tax one is particularly questionable - since the guy was a tax preparer, and the supposed trojan only messed around with his own taxes). However, you know that from now on, this is the standard defense anyone charged with a computer crime will use - guilty or innocent. Update: Interesting opinion piece on the verdict asking if a typical jury trial still makes sense for technology related cases, as the jury is unlikely to understand the finer points of the technology in question.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Alex, Oct 17th, 2003 @ 9:57am

    No Subject Given

    People will abuse the system, apparently, but I'd rather see some guilty person go unpunished than an innocent guy being jailed for something he didn't do.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2003 @ 11:02am

    No jury trials for hard to understand crimes?

    I think the opinion piece on whether or not jury trials should be used for alleged crimes involving complicated technological issues is completely reactionary as this same basic principal (people are to uninformed/uneducated etc.) can be applied to many many other crimes. I still remember after the OJ trial watching an interview with one of the jurors and the interviewer asked the juror... 'what about all that blood evidence... 6 months of blood testimony, how do you rationalize that??' The juror straight faced responds to the interviewer... 'well you know... a lot of people can have the same blood type'. I think that pretty much sums it up.

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

  3. identicon
    bbay, Oct 17th, 2003 @ 2:26pm

    Technical Juries

    If I were accused of a tech related crime that I didn't commit I would be very nervous about a jury selected from the general public. I might prefer a jury of technically adept people. A jury of my 'peers' as it were.

    On the other hand, if I HAD commited some crime, I would want a jury of people ignorant of the technical details involved. A jury that could be easily confused or deceived.

    Both scenarios are really arguments in favor of 'expert juries', from a standpoint of getting justice done.

    If the current trend of professional specialization continues, our society may begin to segment into seperate cultures formed around large isolated bodies of knowledge with less and less in common with each other and with the general population. In this scenario it might become necessary to convene juries from the knowledge domain in which the crime was committed.

    I'm unsure if I find this a plausible future or not.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous, Oct 18th, 2003 @ 6:57am

    No Subject Given

    The people being sued by the RIAA should start using the defense of "a hacker must have placed those copyrighted songs in my kazza shared directory without my knowledge!"

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

  5. identicon
    Adam Rice, Oct 18th, 2003 @ 12:36pm

    No Subject Given

    This reminds me of a related idea I've had:

    If the RIAA were to bust me for file-sharing (which, of course, I would never do), I'd simply point out "Hey, I have an open WiFi node. Sure, it was on my IP address, but it wasn't me, it was a neighbor. Or some guy with a laptop in his car."

    And then I'd run over to Fry's and get a WiFi node, pronto.

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

  6. identicon
    sMoses, Oct 18th, 2003 @ 3:08pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Yeah, but wouldn't you still be responsible for someone else's actions if you owned the wifi node? Maybe if you had an open node that you claimed you didn't know was open that you claim somone else used. Then they couldn't get you for knowingly violating their hallowed copyrights. But you would still be responsible for damages. Which is an interesting question. If the RIAA can go after anyone they want to on kazaa and gnutella, can they just randomly pick out people with open wifi nodes and sue them for facilitating illegal file sharing?

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

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