Is The Line Between 'Hacker' And 'Criminal' Really That Fuzzy?

from the only-if-you-don't-really-understand-stuff dept

We recently wrote about a series of cases where young computer hackers were either charged or threatened with criminal charges for doing things that don't seem particularly criminal at all. The NY Times now has a blog post on more or less the same subject, but focusing on the "fuzzy and shifting line between hacker and criminal." While it's good that more attention is getting paid to these kinds of questionable cases, I wonder if that framing is really accurate. I don't think there's a "line" -- fuzzy, shifting or not -- between "hacker" and "criminal." The two things are different. Can you be a criminal hacker? Sure. But the problem is that many non-techie folks seem to assume that any kind of hacking must be criminal. And that's the problem. It's not that some imaginary line is moving around, but that some people don't seem to understand that hacking itself is not criminal, and that there are plenty of good reasons to hack -- including to expose security holes.

Filed Under: cracker, criminal, freedom to tinker, hacker, intent


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  1. identicon
    Beech, 29 Jan 2013 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: Re:

    People do have a lot of different definitions for the word "hacking." the problem is that all but one of those definitions (including yours, apparently) are wrong. Use the correct definition and there is no misunderstanding.

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