[San-Diego-pm] FWD: [IP] more on Hard time? Not for cyber criminals

Joe Crawford joe at artlung.com
Wed Aug 18 15:46:01 CDT 2004

I thought this was remarkable... and definitely Perl-related.

	- Joe Crawford

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 16:33:42 -0400
From: David Farber <dave at farber.net>
To: Ip <ip at v2.listbox.com>
Subject: [IP] more on Hard time? Not for cyber criminals

Begin forwarded message:

From: merlyn at stonehenge.com (Randal L. Schwartz)
Date: August 18, 2004 4:15:02 PM EDT
To: dave at farber.net
Cc: ip at v2.listbox.com
Subject: Re: [IP] more on Hard time? Not for cyber criminals

>>>>> "Dave" == Dave Farber <dave at farber.net> writes:

Dave> p. 224 Texas Computer Crimes Act, which is not substantially
Dave> different
Dave> from that of any other state, . by [these laws] looking at
Dave> digital watch without permission could be a felony.
Dave> ------------------------------------------

When I give my "Just another convicted Perl hacker" talk, I point out that
under Oregon's ORS 164.377, the law under which I was made a felon,
unauthorized access to a computer is a misdemeanor, and unauthorized
alteration is a felony.  But then I go on to point out that "computer" is
pretty much everything with a CPU (which is nearly everything these days),
and "unauthorized" is never qualified.

Which means that in Oregon (like many states), if you ring my cell phone
(which is a computer, and you're now altering it: draining the battery,
using up my prepaid minutes, adding to the "recent calls" log), and you're
not "authorized" (whatever that means, since it could mean so many
things), you're a felon.

Think that's a joke?  During one of our pre-trial motions, the judge said
(now part of caselaw) that "altering the background screen on an
employer's computer" would qualify under this law.  Yes, set your
preferences wrong (or at all), and you're going to jail!

The laws that have been passed are not correlated with reality.  They come
from a fantasy world where computers were in big ivory towers, and even
then, they didn't make sense.  They also speak of "authorization", but
that could mean so many things.  Do I have explicit authorization to call
your cell phone?  If you publish it? If I've been annoying you recently?
If I don't have permission, where do you need to publish that fact as
sufficient warning?

It's just crazy.  All crazy.  And I'm a felon because of a
misunderstanding exactly along these lines, and it's cost me dearly.

(By the way, I will give this 90-minute talk wherever invited, as long as
you can help me cover my costs.  I promise an educational as well as
entertaining experience.)

Randal L. Schwartz - Stonehenge Consulting Services, Inc. - +1 503 777 0095
<merlyn at stonehenge.com> <URL:http://www.stonehenge.com/merlyn/>
Perl/Unix/security consulting, Technical writing, Comedy, etc. etc.
See PerlTraining.Stonehenge.com for onsite and open-enrollment Perl training!

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