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Adult Website Use At Work Leads To Hacker Conviction

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the questions-of-reach dept.

The Courts 361

safesorry notes that several sources are talking about a recent tale of woe about Richard Wolf, a lonely guy looking for love in all the wrong places. Wolf used his work computer to visit the Adult Friend Finder website and upload personal nudes to prospective "friends." Now he's been convicted under a "hacker" law targeted at employees who steal data or access information they shouldn't. "Richard Wolf acknowledged that his behavior was inappropriate when he used his work computer to upload nude photos of himself to an adult web site and view other photos on porn sites, but he didn't think he should be convicted of hacking for doing so."

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361 comments

frist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27914787)

fecund

It's a typo (5, Funny)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27914805)

Should be a 'W' not an 'H'

Re:It's a typo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27914907)

Wacker HaHaHaHaHa

Re:It's a typo (1)

theturtlemoves (932428) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915581)

And an 'n' instead of a 'c'?

Re:It's a typo (5, Funny)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915621)

Either way, it's a sticky situation.

What the fuck? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27914817)

This is ridiculous.

Re:What the fuck? (4, Interesting)

enderjsv (1128541) | more than 5 years ago | (#27914899)

Seriously. Abusing laws to prosecute people under ridiculous circumstances only serves to undermine those laws and weaken their effectiveness in dealing with the real crimes those laws were enacted to prevent.

Whatever happened to those two girls charged with distribution of child porn for taking pictures of themselves and sending them to their boyfriends? This reminds me of that.

Re:What the fuck? (5, Insightful)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27914949)

We don't live in a world where news organizations do follow-up.

There's the sound bite. The 2 minute outrage. Then everyone forgets about it.

Delivering the news is only profitable while the news is still new. Follow-up is just too boring to be profitable apparently.

Re:What the fuck? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27915113)

Delivering the news is only profitable while the news is still new. Follow-up is just too boring to be profitable apparently.

Then I hereby declare the formation of the 'Olds', which will only do pieces following up on old 'News'.

Re:What the fuck? (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915335)

Hmmmm... oldnews in a .info would be a cool idea...

Re:What the fuck? (4, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915369)

There'd be an entire domain available for Slashdot dupes to be kept in? That would be awesome! Then CmdrTaco wouldn't need to host them on the main site!

Re:What the fuck? (4, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915153)

Whatever happened to those two girls charged with distribution of child porn for taking pictures of themselves and sending them to their boyfriends? This reminds me of that.

Nothing, yet.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124026115528336397.html [wsj.com]

Re:What the fuck? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27915445)

Putting anybody to a private prison equal to the profit. Do you remember those judges in PA?

Persecution, not prosecution (5, Insightful)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915169)

The case began when Larry Wise, the Superintendent of the Shelby City Wastewater Treatment Plant, where Wolf was employed, was deleting old files from a work computer and found a nude photograph of Wolf.

and

Initially he was suspended while police investigated the case, but was promoted after he returned to work. He lost his job, however, when he was convicted of the charges.

The important question would be why his employer even phoned the police in the first place. This is one of those bizarre situations where it is obvious that the person was persecuted for a lifestyle choice and not for what he did or didn't do at work. As stated in the article, he would not have been prosecuted if he would have looked at horticultural Web sites [and uploaded pictures of flowers].

Stupid Law (5, Interesting)

Bellegante (1519683) | more than 5 years ago | (#27914841)

The idea that if someone does something you don't like, they have to be punished, even if you can't find a law that exactly names the thing you didn't like as a crime, is moronic.

This is ten steps worse than I thought from the summary, though. The court decided that any use the company decided was felony 'hacking', at the companies discretion through the application of its internal policy, without requiring the company to actually install blocks against the usage!

Let's let businesses come up with new felonies on the fly! Woo!

Re:Stupid Law (5, Informative)

auLucifer (1371577) | more than 5 years ago | (#27914939)

I think it get's even worse then that

FTFA: David Carto, the attorney who handled Wolf's appeal, told Threat Level that Wolf was prosecuted because authorities disapproved of the material he viewed online.
"The reason he was prosecuted was clearly because of the content of what he was looking at," he said. "If somebody else had been on an internet site studying horticulture, I don't think he would have been prosecuted. It was not obscene. It was just something that was not approved of by certain elements of the city government and by the court in which he was tried. The prosecutor and the judge both treated this basically as a sex offense."

So I read this that the judge and prosecution couldn't find an adequate sex offense charge, apart from consulting a dominatrix which is a misdemeanor, so they hit him with the best they could which happened to be the poorly worded anti-hacking law.

consulting a dominatrix is a misdemeanor? (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915129)

This is a joke right? How the hell can the government make that a crime?

May be silly, but its his choice.

If Lawyers and Judges don't like it its criminal. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27915253)

Lawyers (that includes Judges) can do anything they want to you and get away with it. They have erected a multitude of laws and offenses. You are going to be guilty of at least one even if they have to stretch it like they have here. One more reason the break their Guild.

Re:consulting a dominatrix is a misdemeanor? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915257)

It's only a misdemeanor when money changes hands. Solicitation of prostitution is a misdemeanor no matter how kinky the sex.

As for why solicitation of prostitution is a misdemeanor.. dude, it's the USA.. they're puritans.

Re:consulting a dominatrix is a misdemeanor? (4, Informative)

PAjamian (679137) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915345)

dominatrix != prostitute as usually there is no actual sex involved, hence prostitution laws do not apply.

Re:consulting a dominatrix is a misdemeanor? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915529)

Hehe.. clearly you have never consulted a dominatrix.

:)

Re:consulting a dominatrix is a misdemeanor? (1)

auLucifer (1371577) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915261)

Unfortunately not a joke Also FTFA:

Wolf was also convicted of soliciting a dominatrix online for sexual services, a misdemeanor.

Definitely his choice if he wants to be slapped around like the naughty little boy he apparently is. I hope, for his sake, that he won't have to serve any amount of prison time or he'll get all the rough love he can handle.

Re:Stupid Law (4, Funny)

Gandalf_Greyhame (44144) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915189)

"If somebody else had been on an internet site studying horticulture, I don't think he would have been prosecuted.

He was studying whore-to-culture... isn't that close enough?

Re:Stupid Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27915497)

Remember the old adage: You can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think.

Re:Stupid Law (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915671)

apart from consulting a dominatrix which is a misdemeanor

One wonders how such things end up on the books in the first place. Perhaps a certain local politician was prone to such consultations in years past?

Re:Stupid Law (5, Insightful)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27914987)

Extrapolate that policy to it's finality. A company can decide at any time to change their policy and any use they don't agree with, pornographic or not, becomes a felony.

Watch out /.ers, it's a felony to browese at work now.

Re:Stupid Law (4, Interesting)

Bellegante (1519683) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915097)

Yes. Am I right in saying that if you commit a felony at work, and are terminated as a result, they don't have to pony up unemployment?

Scenario: You want to fire an employee, and you really hate him to boot. Solution! Find a website he visits, change the policy, and send out a long rambling copy of the full policy that no one reads anyway, wait a month, get him jailed.

Re:Stupid Law (2, Informative)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915699)

If you're terminated "for cause", no unemployment. Don't matter if your misdeeds are felonious on just not compliant with the employee handbook.

Incidentally, there have been many accusations that employers deliberately accuse employees of small infractions that would normally be no big deal, just so they can RIF them more cheaply.

Re:Stupid Law (3, Insightful)

BaronHethorSamedi (970820) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915107)

While I agree that this sort of law has the potential for abuse, I think the summary in this case overstates the matter.

Quoted from the appellate court's opinion [wired.com] :

Upon review, we find that the crux of the state's "unauthorized use" case was based on the proposition that Appellant was acting outside the scope of his authorization to use the computer by engaging in criminal conduct, i.e. soliciting prostitution.

This wasn't so much about this guy sending naked pictures of himself as it was about him using his work computer to set up a rendez-vous with a dominatrix. The court determined that this was pretty obviously outside the boundaries of what you might reasonably expect to be able to do with your work computer.

That said, it's troubling that a misdemeanor (solicitation) can get double-whammied into a felony because it's done on company time, and that that's apparently at the company's discretion. And the potential for abuse is there. It doesn't look like the guy advanced constitutional vagueness arguments (probably because this isn't a great case for that). Eventually someone will be fired for surfing /. at work. Then we'll have an interesting case. :)

Re:Stupid Law (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915595)

The court determined that this was pretty obviously outside the boundaries of what you might reasonably expect to be able to do with your work computer.

They also said that it was reasonable to fire him for it, but should have had at least some qualms with making a violation of an unpublished policy a felony. Seriously, Felonies are supposed to be for things that matter, like stabbing people. This doesn't pass the sniff test.

Re:Stupid Law (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27915207)

Let's let businesses come up with new felonies on the fly! Woo!

It's because of that stupid fucking judge in the whole MyFaceSpaceTubeBook teen suicide case. In that case, the judge ruled that a simple TOS violation was hacking under the way the anti-hacking statues are written.

Hopefully we will see enough of these moronic lawsuits that the courts will throw out the anti-hacking statues and put and end to the current system of selective enforcement.

Basically, right now ANY "unauthorized access or use" of any computer or network is punishable under anti-hacking laws. Of course they only prosecute those they don't like or have a beef with.

Re:Stupid Law (1)

WebmasterNeal (1163683) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915415)

I think this is why the disorderly conduct law was invented. It short of covers anything that could happen.

Re:Stupid Law (5, Informative)

ktappe (747125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915423)

The idea that if someone does something you don't like, they have to be punished, even if you can't find a law that exactly names the thing you didn't like as a crime, is moronic.

I'll take that a step further: It's evil. Using the law as a bludgeon and a personal retribution device instead of as a scalpel to rid society of true cancers is simply evil.

Re:Stupid Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27915691)

This is idiotic. Apparently, the reason given for the harsh sentence is that he wasted the time of his employer (which happens to be the City in this case). If the City really wanted to recover there, it should have gone after him in a civil court, not make a criminal case out of it (not that that they would have gone very far, his supervisor seems to support him -- since he even promoted him after he found those pictures). Also both the law and the ruling are so vague, it would seem that just ordering Christmas gifts from a web site on company (city) time would have be enough to get jailed.

Quick, don't read this! (1)

Ichoran (106539) | more than 5 years ago | (#27914847)

If you do--at least if you're at work--you're committing a felony!

Oops, too late.

Richard Wolffe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27914855)

So, should I not expect him on Countdown with Keith Olbermann tonight?

Old boss (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 5 years ago | (#27914861)

I had an old boss get shown the door for surfing that site.
He tried the I followed a link defence, the the logs showed he had been there several times.

Just fire him (5, Insightful)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27914869)

I think losing your job would be punishment enough in this case.

Re:Just fire him (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27914981)

What company caused all this to come about? I'm sure that having this company made public as one that "might inadvertently result in your becoming a convicted felon meaning that you lose the right to vote and bear arms" might be useful information to people who might otherwise seek employment there.

(And that has always been a sticking point for me... does the second amendment include an exception for convicted felons? How can any imposed restriction on a convicted felon's right to bear arms be constitutional? Does the same constitutionally guaranteed right to vote include any exception against convicted felons?)

Re:Just fire him (3, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915025)

No company. He was working for the state, the "Shelby City Wastewater Treatment Plant".

Re:Just fire him (4, Funny)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915103)

Wow this story is getting shittier and shittier.

Re:Just fire him (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915171)

Won't be long before it stops smelling like roses.

Re:Just fire him (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915259)

And thus, it is our responsibility, as the voters who elected the folks who set that policy. Well, assuming we live in the same state.

I work for a state government, too. The voters evidently don't want us spanking it on their dime. Wasting time on Slashdot is fine, it seems, because the filters let me come here, but sausage polishing (or fingering the sushi, I guess...) is a no no.

If you want to spank it on the taxpayer's dime, do it in a bathroom stall like the rest of us.

Re:Just fire him (1)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915047)

I think a serious rant and forcing him to pay for the techs to inspect the system for malware[1] etc should be enough.
Could this be worse if he was charged with sexual harassment?

[1] I assume that that's why such sites are forbidden, if it's just due to wasting some time they should ban everything.

Re:Just fire him (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915303)

Bah. Those sites are banned because:

1) it clearly isn't work related.
2) everyone is afraid of sexual harassment laws.

and, let's not forget:

3) people will accept just about any conditions of employment.

Cause we're all slaves.

Re:Just fire him (2, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915521)

I think losing your job would be punishment enough in this case.

Absolutely. What he did would not have been illegal from home. You can stand in front of a mirror and make your junk move in circles all day long. Do it on your front porch and you get busted for public indecency.

If he's surfing porn from his cube, he can be fired. If he's sexually assaults a coworker, that's worth firing and prosecuting.

It's like drinking. Drinking at home is legal. Getting so hammered I black out and lose days is legal so long as I do it on my own time. Showing up to work hung-over can get me fired but won't put me in jail. Drinking on the job if I just sit at a desk can get me fired, no jail time. Drinking when driving my own car can get me jail time and so drinking while driving a company car can get me fired and jail time, that's fair. If I worked on the factory floor and people could be maimed or killed due to my negligence, jail time would be proper.

Pretty much anything that would put me in jail if I were doing it on my own time is fair game for putting me in jail on company time. But if it's not something that's prosecutable, don't prosecute, just fire the guy. But that also brings up the question of assholes trying to selectively get rid of someone. There's really not much you can do when management has it in for you. I've worked in happy companies and paranoid companies. The happy ones were great but in the paranoid ones once someone has decided they have it in for you, you're toast.

Most of us are criminals (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27914887)

Every geek worth his geek-badge has bypassed the company web-filter. According to this law, that's hacking. That whole "theft of services from office" part was overturned but only because they couldn't show his work had actually suffered from his actions.. whereas if all you do at work is post on Slashdot and your work suffers, you could be charged with a crime.

So yeah, basically, if you have an employer who is a big enough dick, most of us are criminals.

Re:Most of us are criminals (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915053)

Every geek worth his geek-badge has bypassed the company web-filter.

I've never been filtered, and given a choice I would go work somewhere else. Any human worth their salt wouldn't put up with being treated like a dipshit.

Re:Most of us are criminals (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915101)

Umm.. corporates justify filtering by saying "if we don't do this we could be sued". They justify *everything* like that. And yeah, maybe you can stay working in little shops where they just don't give a shit.

Re:Most of us are criminals (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915365)

And yeah, maybe you can stay working in little shops where they just don't give a shit.

Right, because Tivoli and Cisco are so fucking tiny that they just didn't give a shit, that must be it.

In stead of excuses, make plans to move on to work for an employer who respects you.

Re:Most of us are criminals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27915557)

I don't understand this attitude. Can't Slashdot wait until you're home? If the employer deems it necessary to filter the web, then you should not break that policy. If the filter interferes with your job, bring it up in a meeting. If it really bothers you that you can't get your fix while at work, look for a different job. What does any of that have to do with being a worthy geek? I know I could easily get around all filters which don't cut off internet access completely. I don't have to prove it by breaking company policy.

No disagreement on the ridiculousness of the hacker classification of mere tunneling.

WTF? (2, Informative)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27914905)

I agree with the guy that the was inappropriate behaviour, but get accused of hacking? Clearly the jury has no clue of technology and that the defense failed to make a credible point. I am just trying to imagine the prosecution's argument:

"Sir, it is our belief that uploading an image from a computer he had access necessitated that he hack into a computer (that he had suitable access to), and upload to a password protected system (which he has legitimate access to), is a dangerous offense and could possibly result in the collapse of the economy"*.

Re:WTF? (2, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915161)

No.. you just didn't RTFA. The jury was presented with the law and most likely told what all juries are told "don't think for yourself, just blindly apply the law as written". The law specifically says that if you're using a computer for activity that you haven't been authorized to use it for then you're committing a felony. The thing that really should get him off is that they never published an acceptable use policy.

Re:WTF? (5, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915229)

Remember- jury nullification is a right our founding fathers supported.

The appropriate answer to questions about jury nullification belief is "No" (because they really shouldn't be asking you that question in the first place and answering "Yes" would remove your right of nullifcation.

FTA... (5, Informative)

Darundal (891860) | more than 5 years ago | (#27914917)

He added that the city had never actually disseminated a policy regarding internet usage to tell workers what was inappropriate.

"They had crafted one but they hadn't published it," he said. "So there was in effect no policy and no protections on the computer -- no password protection or filtering of any kind -- so basically anybody could access anything on the internet through the city's computer."

And the statue he was convicted under:

"No person, in any manner and by any means, including, but not limited to, computer hacking, shall knowingly gain access to, attempt to gain access to, or cause access to be gained to any computer, . . . without the consent of, or beyond the scope of the express or implied consent of, the owner of the computer, . . . or other person authorized to give consent."

Righto.

Re:FTA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27915293)

I always bring my laptop to work

Re:FTA... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915341)

Who's network do you use?

You might want to invest in a 3G plan.. and a tinfoil hat.

Re:FTA... (1)

ktappe (747125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915545)

He added that the city had never actually disseminated a policy regarding internet usage...
And the statue he was convicted under:
"No person...without the consent of, or beyond the scope of the express or implied consent of, the owner of the computer..."

There are only two conclusions that can be drawn from this:

  • The judge did not read/know the law,
    or
  • The judge is 100% aware that he handed the defendant's lawyer an appeal on a silver platter

Re:FTA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27915629)

That should read...

He added that the city had never actually disseminated a policy regarding internet SAusage to tell workers what was inappropriate.

Finding love (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27914923)

On the plus side, he certainly will find love in the end.

And by finding love, I mean being repeatedly gang-raped in prison.

Re:Finding love (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27915383)

On the plus side, he certainly will find love in the end.

And by finding love, I mean prison gang-rape. And by in the end, I mean butt.

Fixed that joke for you.

Whoops, the lawyer made a typo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27914927)

He's not being charged as a hacker, but as a whacker.

Re:Whoops, the lawyer made a typo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27914961)

-1 Redundant

Look at who he works for (1)

bzzfzz (1542813) | more than 5 years ago | (#27914943)

This is why I will never take a government IT job.

Re:Look at who he works for (1)

anjilslaire (968692) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915317)

This is why I will never take a government IT job.

You won't take a government job because they won't let you upload your pr0n?

Re:Look at who he works for (1)

bzzfzz (1542813) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915599)

No, the private sector jobs won't let me upload my pr0n either.

But if you end up doing stupid shit at one time or another and get called out on it, you just get fired, instead of being sent to the federal pen.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27914957)

So anyone from work looking at slashdot now can be charged with a felony.

I read that as.... (-1, Offtopic)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27914959)

I read the headline as "Adult Website Use at Work Leads to Hacker Convention "

wow! just wow! (1, Troll)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915061)

if there ever was a definition of dumbass in the dictionary this guy is it!

You'd be surprised. (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915151)

I hear lots and lots of anecdotal stories about people using their work PCs to surf porn. I know somebody who lost his job because of it. Then you hear of cases where an employee -- and I mean big-level management, now, not just some schmuck -- turns a laptop in to IT because "it has viruses" and the IT staffers find that the hard drive is completely full of porn. Of course the exec protests: it must have been his kids getting into his computer. But sure enough, firewall logs show that it was probably all him, from the office. Whether this is because people are unwilling to pay for broadband at home, they just lack common sense, or there really is such a thing as "porn addiction," I'd venture is open to speculation.

Re:You'd be surprised. (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915231)

At my last job, the excuse was "foreign currency converter" websites (what the foreign currency was converted into was never mentioned).

Re:You'd be surprised. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27915579)

Actually it's true. How else are they going to read the billing statement for their German Schisse and Russian Teens site access?

Re:You'd be surprised. (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915235)

Where I work, they'll just copy the porn for themselves and then wipe the drive.

Re:You'd be surprised. (2, Insightful)

Nethead (1563) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915247)

No, it's because the wife and kids are at home. Mr Bigshot likely isn't the big-shot at home.

Re:wow! just wow! (2, Interesting)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915243)

before someone mods me down let me elaborite:

when working for other people you dont go surfing porn, what if other people happen to see it and are offended? even children of other employees, true enough he should not be convicted of hacking but he should be fired! there are some things you just dont do at work and surfing pr0n is one of them, besides some of those adult websites are malicious and will try to tempt people in to installing malicious things such as malware, trojans and viruses, and chances are he was running an POS OS that has been famous for being vulnerable to just such attacks for well over a decade, i wont name names but this OS comes out of Redmond Washington...

Re:wow! just wow! (2, Insightful)

FooRat (182725) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915245)

It's slightly dumb, but it's only as spectacularly dumb as you suggest if you honestly think he could've reasonably expected to be charged with a crime like this as a result. I think it's obvious that no reasonable person would expect that, and most people aren't aware of such laws either. It's only easy for you to see that because of the context you're reading it in, where you happen to know the harshness of the consequences.

What this law says is that if your company has a policy somewhere in its fine print that you can't access, say, Slashdot from a work computer, and you are caught accessing Slashdot, you can be charged with hacking as a crime. Does that really seem reasonable to you? I don't think so, I don't think any sane person thinks you'd be that much of a dumbass just for reading Slashdot on a work computer, but that is *exactly* what this law allows.

Obviously a law like this could be abused by a boss who just doesn't like you, or wants to extort anything from you in any other way (e.g. prevent you from leaving).

Re:wow! just wow! (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915447)

FooRat, you make a good point, i can not disagree with you, this law needs to be wiped off the books, too easily abused...

NEWS: Public employee fired for not working! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27915213)

They just had to use this bullshit law to do it.

If they didn't use these trumped-up charges, we'd still be paying this dud's salary/pension.

Re:NEWS: Public employee fired for not working! (5, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915347)

The problem wasn't that he was fired, it was that he was charged with a hacking felony for something that wasn't related to hacking.

Umm (1)

twoears (1514043) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915295)

Isn't Drew Carey from Ohio, too? Case closed!

So did he hack or not? (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915301)

The article never discusses whether he took actions to circumvent existing filtering or firewalls. If he did, they yes he is guilty of the crime.

Re:So did he hack or not? (2)

Neon Aardvark (967388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915489)

The article never discusses whether he took actions to circumvent existing filtering or firewalls. If he did, they yes he is guilty of the crime.

"So there was in effect no policy and no protections on the computer -- no password protection or filtering of any kind -- so basically anybody could access anything on the internet through the city's computer." From TFA.

Re:So did he hack or not? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915501)

To an extent, perhaps, but the jury seems to have been provided not with evidence of firewall bypassing but rather with material the jury was likely to find offensive.

So, personally, although I have little sympathy for the guy, I believe the jury was emotionally manipulated to provide a guaranteed answer (a jury version of the leading question) rather than being provided with the facts of the case and the laws by which those facts should be examined.

The techniques you hear of in legal cases are not much different from the techniques used by cults and dictators who want you to make up your own mind... provided it agrees with what you're told to think.

The rest of the case, and indeed the anger at the allegations involved, is largely immaterial. If the jury is not being manipulated by a couple of con-artists trying to out-con each other, but rather is being presented evidence by two lawyers attempting to show that there's more to it than the other person's viewpoint, the jury could sort out for itself what was a sensible, mature use of law and what was bigotry.

Well, assuming the jury had 12 intelligent, rational people on it, which is even less likely than two non-cthulhic lawyers.

Re:So did he hack or not? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915587)

Perhaps the jury was jealous because the jury wasn't hung, but the defendant was.

I fully agree with Rasch. (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915313)

This is a classic example of an overly-broadly-worded law that is now being used to prosecute people to whom the law was never intended to apply.

WHENEVER your Congresscritters -- or eve City Council -- want to pass a law that is too broadly worded, oppose it. I did once, and was told "It will never be enforced that way." My reply was, "If it is not intended to be enforced that way, why was it written that way?"

When you give the government power to do something, eventually it will... even if that was not your intent. So make sure the intent is clear, and just do not give them powers that you do not intend them to use.

Personal Photocopying (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915333)

Isn't any different, and i don't see any jail time associated with that sort of act.

Confused from the start (3, Funny)

hurfy (735314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915379)

I am still stuck at step one...

They found a nude picture of an employee on a work computer and...call the cops?

The cops and DA must be awfully friendly with the treatment plant bosses, i can't imagine calling that in from work here and getting any kind of coherent response from the cops. Especially as they didn't care about the employee that stole nearly $10,000 in merchandise because they couldn't 'prove' it. (apparently any one is likely to have a stack of adult diapers, foam bed pads, 20,000 latex gloves, etc in their garage just like their employer...)

is it just me (4, Funny)

atarione (601740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915389)

or is work the last place I want to have a boner

"can you stand and give your presentation"

ummm... no.....

They made the call--now let them live with it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27915429)

More details...

TFA is light--does anyone know what city he works for, and what county/etc held up this decision? I'm not in the area right now--but I had an offer in Columbus about four years ago. Laws (or abuse of such) like that are enough for me to tell any potential employer in the entire state that I would never consent to work any job in such a region under any condition, for any amount of compensation (happy enough right now, TYVM--I'll reconsider if I experience serious fiscal distress).

Sure--the dream of an outright IT worker boycott will never happen--but let's see how well they hold up when any decent, well educated IT professional who keeps up on the news refuses to work for them for anything less than an exorbitant rate sufficient to buy insurance against getting caught reading /. on the job. Yeah...I'll go for the exorbitant rental rates in California before I ever consider a job in Ohio at this rate...

How to deal with this type of accusation (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915449)

If there are no published policies, demand that hard drives from the bosses and other people in the office to show that such conduct is not unusual.

I was caught hacking at my desk (3, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915453)

Coworkers thought I was coughing up a lung. Damn cold.

It was just a spell check problem (1)

RexDevious (321791) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915493)

They meant to charge him with "whacking".

Uploading naked pictures, sounds familiar (5, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915507)

I worked at a company of about 40 men and 2 women. One of the women was the owner's wife, the other was the receptionist.

The receptionist was a "geek girl" and hung out on some overclocker forums, and so did a bunch of the guys. This girl decides it would be fun to post naked pictures of herself on this forum. The guys totally fell for the bait and started inviting guys who were not on this forum to come over to their computer and have a look. This went on for a few days and eventually my supervisor happened to get invited to take a peek.

No-one really considered that my supervisor was a part owner in the company. I mean, they knew, but they never really thought that he would be more interested in protecting his stake in the company than being "one of the boys". He was shocked that these idiots were passing around naked pictures of a fellow employee (they weren't but hey, close enough) so he went straight to the boss. The forum was blocked.

Everyone who had looked at the pictures was suspended for a week without pay. One of them complained about this, saying that they didn't put the pictures on the site, that this girl did, and why wasn't she being suspended? He was told to drop it, wouldn't, so he was fired.

Later, they had a quiet word with the girl and recommended she not come back after xmas.. and she agreed.

Thankfully the courts were not involved.

Sexual harassment laws make hostile workplaces.

The Ad above this (1)

L3370 (1421413) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915531)

Anyone find it funny that the advertisement showing up on this thread is for Bluecoat products?

How to stop internet abuse at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27915547)

Post a public list of what websites each employee visits every month (after getting permission through company policy). This will reinforce the notion that company computers are not for private use and generate enough potential for shame that most employees will steer clear of things usually deemed inappropriate at work.

Here is another such tale... (2, Interesting)

Tokolosh (1256448) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915565)

n SC we are very liberal and accepting of diversity. Our local county administrator used his work computer for some naughty activities and was issued a "verbal warning".

The councilman who outed him by putting spyware on his system is in deep doo-doo.

http://www.greenvilleonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009905050317 [greenvilleonline.com]

Your Porn Actor name is... (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915589)

Steel Data!

This is a bogus law (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915593)

and poorly worded. You can be charged as a hacker just by surfing the wrong web site.

I remember when my managers couldn't tell the difference between MSN and MSDN, and they even paid for a subscription to MSDN for us developers to use. I went on MSDN looking up for bug fixes, service packs, and anything else to help with my development and debugging duties. I was told that my use of the Internet was against usage policies (it wasn't it was work related and computer development related materials from Microsoft that my employer was paying for) even if everything I did was work related and my manager told me to go on MSDN and research some problems we were having with Microsoft software.

In short, you could be just doing your job like I was, and still get into trouble for Internet usage. That law is meaningless when the description is so vague that almost any Internet usage management does not like can be considered "hacking" or against their Internet use policy.

Inappropriate use? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915661)

Extremely bad precedent, that any use the employer doesn't approve of is considered criminal hacking. I suspect most employers don't appreciate you accessing monster.com or dice.com from work either, but I've done it many times. Now they are saying if I actually find a better job, they can have me arrested? Trust me, I've worked for people that were big enough dicks that they would do exactly that!

"Authorization" (4, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915681)

DMCA uses the same trick. Circumvention (a thing you're never allowed to do) is defined as bypassing blah blah blah "without authorization."

Which sort of almost makes sense, except that the body that makes this law, isn't the party that grants/denies authorization, nor sets up a regulatory agency to do so. It's a third party, a private party. Who decides if you may or may not bypass a technological measure that limits access? Who decides when you can upload a nude picture of yourself? Not the government, not the people's elected representatives; they haven't prohibited or allowed either activity. Someone else decides.

BTW, the decision of granting/denying authorization need not ever even be communicated. It's bad enough that reading the legislation and case law won't tell you whether an act is illegal; the party who decides whether it's illegal or not, need not even tell you. In this particular case (uploading nudie pics to a hookup site), it seems .. well .. obvious that the user wasn't authorized to use the computer for that (though I guess sometimes "obvious" is in the eye of the beholder), but the end of TFA talks about how the policy was drafted but not distributed -- yet it was still enough for a conviction.

You might think that the safe thing to do, is always assume you don't have authorization to do something, unless you know that you do. Surely that makes sense, right? Nope. Look at any of your DVDs. Does a single one of them say you're allowed to bypass the protection? Every DVD player, even the DVDCCA-licensed ones, bypasses the protection. What you don't know, is whether that's circumvention or not -- whether your act of bypassing the protection was authorized or not. Millions of people have played DVDs. These things are for sale in mainstream brick'n'mortar stores. And if push comes to shove, no one who has ever used one, can prove they didn't break the law. All the copyright holder has to say, is "That wasn't authorized" and the case is open and shut.

Back to computer abuse acts: are you authorized to load example.com's page on someone else's computer? You probably don't know, and common sense might not help you.

When will you find out? When you ask what crime you've just been charged with. By then, it's too late. They came after this guy for uploading nudie pics. Piss them off, and they can get you for loading example.com's web page.

Congress has effectively ceded political power (!!) by letting these third parties, not Congress themselves and not the courts, decide whether a criminal act has occurred.

And we call this "law." Wow.

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