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Rich Pretexter, Poor Pretexter

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the community-service dept.

Crime 121

theodp writes "David Kernell used pretexting to gain access to Sarah Palin's e-mail. And now Kernell faces the possibility of a 20-year prison sentence. HP used pretexting to gain access to its Board's phone records. And now HP faces the possibility of supplying phones to the very companies that were victimized in the HP pretexting scandal. So perhaps Kernell should try coughing up $14.5 million to see if that'll make his pretexting problems disappear. Seems to have worked for HP!"

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121 comments

You know what I think... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071004)

I think this post is really hard to read... Or is that just me?

Re:You know what I think... (-1, Flamebait)

oztiks (921504) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071112)

Yeah something about HP faking an orgasm during phone sex with Sarah Palin, in order to distract her so David Kernell could sneak in through the back door so he could break in to her PC to steal her SPAM folder from her Hotmail account.

Re:You know what I think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071200)

You never know with kdawson's horrible editing.

Re:You know what I think... (3, Funny)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071336)

There is no kdawson.

Drawing inspiration from the cartoon world the other editors set up one of those pecking bird novelties to press whatever key moves a submission from the firehose to the front page. They play games with each other by manipulating the office thermostat to affect the rate of peck. When Taco is in the office you see fewer kdawson stories because Taco is warm natured.

I'm not sure this is how pecking birds work but if it isn't there is probably a pecking bird geek in the crowd who will correct me.

They named it kdawson because those are the letters the Chinese characters on its label look most like. Kind of a pinyin for the ignorant.

Re:You know what I think... (2, Informative)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072232)

I'm not sure this is how pecking birds work but if it isn't there is probably a pecking bird geek in the crowd who will correct me.

Well, as a matter of fact, they need to dip into water.

Typically, older birds are filled with freon-11, or most modern ones with methylene chloride, in a liquid/vapor mix. They operate mainly by having the water soaking their heads evaporate. This changes the temperature of the refrigerant, causing it to change density (some turns from vapor to liquid) and alter the balance of the bird. Without a water supply to replenish the system, it would soon no longer be able to "peck" at the submit key.

It's basically a heat engine, and you've removed the temperature differential.

Re:You know what I think... (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073708)

They operate mainly by having the water soaking their heads evaporate. This changes the temperature of the refrigerant, causing it to change density (some turns from vapor to liquid) and alter the balance of the bird. Without a water supply to replenish the system, it would soon no longer be able to "peck" at the submit key.

So, bottom line, it's a pecker head?

:rolleyes: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071016)

God bless America!

Some Differences in These Cases (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071022)

In the HP case, I don't think they publicized or gave away that information to potentially harmful persons. Palin could legitimately fear identity theft while the HP case that was more invasive seemed to have a very small group of people accessing the private information. Basically, was there potential identity theft in either case? Kernell's jury was hung on that, if I remember. The other thing is that the HP employees didn't seem to want to press charges (aside from one, if I recall correctly). So the pretexting victims need to step up and remember, the telephone companies weren't the biggest victims, it was the actual phone account holders that had their records accessed via pretexting. I'm no legal expert on the issue but I think if the people whose records had been accessed stepped up to sue then the result would have been different. I imagine Palin will exercise all options in prosecuting Kernell and since she's not in anyway trying to salvage a relationship with Kernell he'll get the book thrown at him whether he's sorry or not.

Also, I read about this in ValleyWag [gawker.com] and didn't see it linked to in the summary. Not sure if theodp works there or if it was just coincidence but if this comparison was gleaned from there, some small credit should be given.

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071130)

Palin could legitimately fear identity theft

Who the hell wants to impersonate Sarah Palin if not for comedy? You can't screw up her reputation more than she does herself.

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (2, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071516)

Hey! I'd sacrifice my reputation for 12 million dollars given have a chance..

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071164)

Ok, but in the Palin case, the former governor was using this email address to skirt public disclosure requirements. Palin is trying to play the victim here. She is the worst type of politician, and if our system was fair (which is impossible due to people like Palin), then she would be prosecuted as well.

As far as I'm concerned, Kernell did the public a service in helping to expose a corrupt politician.

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (3, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071548)

...Kernell did the public a service in helping to expose a corrupt politician.

We don't write law to serve the public.. In fact, some are written to protect the corrupt politician.. seeing as that we let corrupt politicians write the law

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (1)

elnyka (803306) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074574)

...Kernell did the public a service in helping to expose a corrupt politician.

We don't write law to serve the public.. In fact, some are written to protect the corrupt politician.. seeing as that we let corrupt politicians write the law

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buchanan_v._Warley [wikipedia.org] Yeah, neither laws nor the judicial legislative systems ever work for the people, ever. Tool.

Um... no. (5, Insightful)

jwietelmann (1220240) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071892)

You might be able to make the civil disobedience argument if he had, say, broken into the email account, downloaded everything, and sent it to a site like Wikileaks. Instead, he put the password on 4chan, and in the process he didn't really expose anything and delegitimized anything that might have been found.

Painting this kid as some sort of noble hacker/whistleblower is pure fantasy.

(At the same time, I do feel empathy for him, as we all know what law enforcement would do if someone broke into one of our personal webmail accounts: Absolutely nothing.)

Re:Um... no. (4, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072262)

I'm not saying you are or aren't in the group I'm about to argue with, because it's a bit unclear from your comment; but...

I've noticed that a lot of people throw around the "civil disobedience argument" as though they think it should be a legal defense. It isn't. It was never intended to be. The very concept of civil disobedience is that you accept the consequences of your actions, even if they be unfair consequences imposed by a corrupt regime. That's the nature of the play. If you don't like that part of it, then civil disobedience may not be for you.

So, yeah... he might have gotten a more sympathetic judge and/or jury if he'd done as you suggest, but he still would've gotten a criminal record and some sort of sentence out of the deal. Bottom line is having the best of intentions still doesn't make it ok to go outside the system. What crimes Palin did or didn't commit would be a separate matter, but don't expect evidence revealed in this manner to be what brings her down.

Re:Um... no. (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073160)

The very concept of civil disobedience is that you accept the consequences of your actions, even if they be unfair consequences imposed by a corrupt regime.

No. The very concept of civil disobedience [eserver.org] is "we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right."

Thoreau didn't think to himself, "I'm going to go to jail to make a spectacle and show how wrong this war tax is"; he simply declined to take an action he felt was morally wrong. He didn't demand to stay in jail once someone paid the tax for him.

Re:Um... no. (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074222)

How you think that means he didn't accept the consequences of his actions is beyond me.

It rather sounds like you're arguing about the exact rationale he might have had for accepting the consequences of his actions; in which case you're arguing with yourself, because I did not (nor do I plan to) get into that topic.

The fact is, if you read his writings, or those of any other movement that utilized "civil disobedience", you will find that part of the deal is accepting that the government is going to enforce the laws you disagree with.

Re:Um... no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072874)

He should do time in a Federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison.

Re:Um... no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074234)

You are missing the point that Sarah Palin's actions were already in breach of the law, regardless of what was further discussed in the mails. But justice works different for politicians and companies than for the common people.

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (2)

starcraftsicko (647070) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071996)

Public service or not, he broke the law in the hope of finding or creating a scandal. The law doesn't say "don't crack someone's email UNLESS when you do so you find something juicy". His success is immaterial. The penalty should be the same whether the account is full of lols and party invites or baby killing and kiddie porn.

Two wrongs...

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (0, Troll)

BarryJacobsen (526926) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073358)

Public service or not, he broke the law in the hope of finding or creating a scandal. The law doesn't say "don't crack someone's email UNLESS when you do so you find something juicy". His success is immaterial. The penalty should be the same whether the account is full of lols and party invites or baby killing and kiddie porn.

Two wrongs...

Actually, according to current law if you so much as FIND kiddie porn, you're immediately thrown in jail for the rest of your life. THINK OF THE CHILDREN....NO, NOT IN THAT WAY!

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (3, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072010)

If I recall, it was assumed that merely having a personal email account was a means to skirt public disclosure requirements, but after multiple ethics investigations, they didn't find anything.

So was there proof she was doing "sekrit" business in her personal email account or not?

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073070)

If I recall, it was assumed that merely having a personal email account was a means to skirt public disclosure requirements, but after multiple ethics investigations, they didn't find anything.

So was there proof she was doing "sekrit" business in her personal email account or not?

There were two different Yahoo accounts. One was personal (gov.palin@yahoo.com) and the other was used for government business (gov.sarah@yahoo.com). There is plenty of evidence [washingtonpost.com] of that, including emails reminding her aides to send to the gov.sarah account instead of the official state address. She even claimed to be unaware of any state laws regarding document retention. Alaska has since passed new legislation that specifically addresses what she was doing so that there can be no way to claim that such practices do not violate document retention policies. We absolutely should be able to see what our government does in our name and why, even if we don't get to see it while it's happening. To do otherwise undermines our system of representation.

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (1)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074172)

Alaska has since passed new legislation that specifically addresses what she was doing so that there can be no way to claim that such practices do not violate document retention policies.

Well, if they had to pass a clarifying law "since", then there must've been a way to make such a claim earlier — when Sarah Palin was making it.

Thanks for the confirmation.

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (1)

MattskEE (925706) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074562)

Well, if they had to pass a clarifying law "since", then there must've been a way to make such a claim earlier -- when Sarah Palin was making it.

Thanks for the confirmation.

That's a logical fallacy. It is entirely possible and reasonably that what Palin was doing was illegal at the time she did it, regardless of what the Alaskan legislature did or did not pass after the fact.

It may have fallen in a slightly grey area which was enough for a powerful person, the state governor to get off the hook. This law could have been passed precisely to eliminate such wiggle room for powerful politicians. Quick quiz: who appoints the Alaskan attorney general? The Alaskan governor.

Legal or not, I would conclude that her actions were outside the spirit of the laws concerning official government correspondence.

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072206)

Except Palin was found not in violation of what you're claiming.

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073074)

Ok, but in the Palin case, the former governor was using this email address to skirt public disclosure requirements.

I've heard this before, but based on what factual evidence? Since there was nothing substantial found in her Hotmail account, I don't see this claim as anything other than character sniping.
Further, comparing this to HP is a bit irrelevant; one is a citizen, one is a corporation; but either way, two wrongs make a right now? Is the gist here, since HP "got away" with something remotely similar, Kernell should be off the hook too? Or is it just maybe that HP should face a stiffer penalty?
I agree that 20 years would be ridiculously extreme, but he won't get that. He'll get a slap on the wrist.

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (1)

elnyka (803306) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074548)

Ok, but in the Palin case, the former governor was using this email address to skirt public disclosure requirements. Palin is trying to play the victim here. She is the worst type of politician, and if our system was fair (which is impossible due to people like Palin), then she would be prosecuted as well.

As far as I'm concerned, Kernell did the public a service in helping to expose a corrupt politician.

What exactly did he exposed?

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071440)

The other thing is that the HP employees didn't seem to want to press charges (aside from one, if I recall correctly)

To be fair, the Sarah Palins didn't seem to want to press charges either (aside from one).

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071708)

No in the HP case they attacked more people and some of whom board members had high security clearnace Jobs they went after the DR heads of phone compnaies the ones who cary phones with two sims one of which is actived if a major disater hits and the govenment shuts down the mobile network to subs.

HP did also go after Journalists to get at thier sources who do have special protection underlaw for this. SP could also have been considdered to have violated a number of policies by using a webmail system rather than the govenment email system to transact govenment business.

Re:Some Differences in These Cases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071912)

Palin could legitimately fear identity theft...

Seriously? If you're that famous, this isn't an issue.

The Major Difference in This Case (4, Informative)

MarbleMunkey (1495379) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072506)

You managed to avoid the truly major difference in this case; The 20 year sentence is for felony obstruction of justice. The actual hacking of the e-mail account was only filed as a misdemeanor, and has a maximum sentence of 1 year.

...f (4, Interesting)

hannson (1369413) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071024)

What I find most interesting about this case is that the initial sentence is up to 1 year for the unauthorized access itself and 20 years for the "obstruction of justice". I just can't see how that punishment fits the crime.

Re:...f (2, Informative)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071406)

That is because he erased incriminating files on his computer.

Re:...f (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071460)

Doesn't every criminal perform some sort of action to cover up their dirty deed? A bank robber might wear a mask. A burgular might wear gloves. A hitman might pick up a bullet casing.

Seems to me we shouldn't have a law like 'obstruction of justice' which can be applied to virtually any crime and carries a far stiffer sentance than would otherwise be constitutional. (In fact, how is 20 years for deleting a computer file on your own computer not cruel and unuusual punishment?)

Re:...f (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071764)

>>Seems to me we shouldn't have a law like 'obstruction of justice' which can be applied to virtually any crime and carries a far stiffer sentance than would otherwise be constitutional.

Explain to me why we have laws against conspiracy as well.
Quote:
" A conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to commit a wrongful act.

        Such an agreement may be made orally or in writing or implied by the conduct of the parties."

Tell me that you can't convict *every* person of this, innocent or guilty.

Re:...f (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072180)

Actually, I believe UK law defines a conspiracy as involving one or more persons, for an act that the defendant(s) *believed* to be unlawful (even if they are actually lawful).

Re:...f (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072410)

OK, we can't convict every person of that, innocent or guilty.

Conspiracy charges are hard to convict on because they require just as much evidence and proof of guilt as non-conspiracy crimes, but don't inherently leave behind any such proof: it's easier to prove that somebody killed a person who is dead than that they planned to kill someone who isn't.

In practice, conspiracy charges only stick when plans are written down, recorded in a phone tap, a sting operation worked as intended, caught entirely on camera, or otherwise so well-documented that it couldn't possibly be a misinterpretation. Well, that or when other charges are dropped in a plea bargain.

Re:...f (2, Insightful)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071808)

And now you understand how the system works. Give yourself a pat on the back and get back to the salt mines.

Re:...f (2, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072490)

Obstruction occurs AFTER the initial crime and takes place during the investigation. It can be as simple as lying about the whereabouts of a person (I know someone arrested on misdemeanor obstruction for just this reason). Wearing a mask during the original crime doesn't count as obstruction because it does not occur during the investigation, but it could fall under other laws banning the wearing of masks in public.

Kernell is charged with two crimes; one crime is unauthorized access of a computer system and he is charged with a separate crime for destroying evidence during the investigation of the first crime.

Re:...f (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074276)

I think we should outlaw the wearing of masks while committing any other crime. And the punishment for wearing a mask during a crime is 25 years of solitary confinement.

Re:...f (1)

Shimbo (100005) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071692)

What I find most interesting about this case is that the initial sentence is up to 1 year for the unauthorized access itself and 20 years for the "obstruction of justice". I just can't see how that punishment fits the crime.

Well it doesn't, obviously. However, obstruction of justice is a very wide ranging offence exactly because of the magnitude of the crime that is being covered up will itself vary widely. So, one would hope that a judge would take that into account when sentencing.

Trying to fix this, by reducing a judge's power to exercise discretion when sentencing, makes it more likely that you end up with punishments that don't fit the crime.

Re:...f (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072630)

Add to the mix that mandatory sentencing guidelines typically stiffen penalties, and you have a problem, as we do with drug laws. That said, I like in Knoxville, and I strongly suspect--but only suspect--that someone busting into Biden's account might have received a shorter sentence. Of course, in other areas, the bias would likely be reversed. Then again, I am a cynical person, so maybe anyone anywhere busting into any VP candidate's e-mail account would receive the same sentence. What's really interesting to me is how this guy's effort to draw attention to Palin's questionable conduct totally backfired. It all reflected to him. On the other hand, the ACORN story is still rolling strong, despite the fact that the folks there were shown to have been deceptive AND that they've since been busted for some naughtiness elsewhere. We believe what we want to believe.

Ahhh! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071026)

Kernell panic!

Anonymous Coward (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071032)

Yes, it's a bad event either way, but get back to 4chan with that kind of attitude. The guy's a criminal, he did the crime, he got caught, he'll be thrown away for 15 years, end of story.

HP is a multi-million dollar company, what they did was wrong too, but they can compensate those affected.

Is it a wonderful system? No, but if you cannot alleviate the pain incurred, then you have to pay the price with time, not money.

15 years for deleting emails? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071384)

15 years for deleting emails? How about Shrub?

And for the ACTUAL CRIME he did, he'd be looking at 1 year tops.

If he did the crime, why are they tacking on another 14 years?

Re:Anonymous Coward (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071928)

That isn't how the legal system works. The court doesn't say "you've done X damage, pay for it with money or time". Would you propose we go back to debtors prisons?

If Bill Gates stabs someone and a jury convicts him of murder, could he "buy off" his life sentence?

Your understanding of justice in the US (and the rest of the world as far as I know) is fundamentally wrong.

Ob (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071034)

I know about other people's email. I can read it from my house!

HP didn't break the law, the PI's did (3, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071056)

there will never be proof that HP or it's officers told someone to break the law. they told the PI's to get the info and it was up to them how to do it

Re:HP didn't break the law, the PI's did (4, Informative)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071294)

Google the legal doctrine of "respondeat superior". It will be enlightening.

Re:HP didn't break the law, the PI's did (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071528)

OK, I did that. Not one of the pages had any evidence linking HP to a crime. These were investigators hired to investigate, not HP employees asked to investigate. So unless you're going to cite some case law which is relevant you're not helping. I doubt the investigators would be considered employees. So google came back with the following two quotes.

"...[A]n employer is responsible for the actions of employees performed within the course of their employment."

"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

Re:HP didn't break the law, the PI's did (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32072252)

"...[A]n employer is responsible for the actions of employees performed within the course of their employment."

"These were investigators hired to investigate.."

So you are arguing that people hired by HP are not HP employees? Are you trying to argue the investigators were independent contractors? They were still in the employ of HP. HP was paying them to do something for them, that does fit the common definition of an employee.

Re:HP didn't break the law, the PI's did (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073460)

Who takes out the payroll taxes?

If HP hired a CORPORATION, then there is no fucking way your "common definition" fits.

Re:HP didn't break the law, the PI's did (2, Informative)

lancefox2323 (1543827) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072418)

You have your facts wrong. HP knew what the PIs were going to do and authorized them to do it anyway. A senior member of HP's general counsel, and, in fact, their director of ethics, was told of what the PIs planned, did "about an hour's worth of online research" on the legality of pretexting, and signed off on the plan. http://schakowsky.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=444&Itemid=17 [house.gov]

Re:HP didn't break the law, the PI's did (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074618)

Right, and Al Capone never told anybody to kill people, he just told his lieutenants to "make this problem go away", and they did... permanently. I'm sorry, but you SHOULD be held responsible for the methods used by the people you are paying generously to gather information. Did the HP officers really think there was a perfectly legal way to get other people's confidential phone records from the phone company without their consent? I realize they get paid enough to afford really good drugs, but that disconnection from reality strains credibility.

No surprise really (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071074)

Under American law, corporations have almost all privileges of citizenship without most of the responsibilities of citizenship. And people acting on behalf of a corporation have lots of legal protections that us regular schlemiels lack. They benefit extensively from the protection of the US military (both in and outside of US territory), and of course have ready access to all the more local services such as police, the fire department, municipal water supply, and so on. Thanks to the current Supreme Court, they also have full rights of political speech.

However, about the only responsibility of citizenship that they have to any degree whatsoever is that they are required to pay taxes, and many of them manage to dodge even doing that. Interestingly, if the interests of their shareholders conflict with the interests of the US, they are legally supposed to go with the shareholder's interest. So, for instance, if it is profitable to find a legal loophole that allows some subsidiary to sell uranium to Iran, a corporation capable of doing so is generally obligated to do just that.

The craziness of this: if Carly Fiorina pretexts to find out whether her husband is cheating on her, she's likely to be in a similar boat to David Kernell. If she pretexts to find out whether there's a leak on her board, she's now acting as a corporate officer, and thus the company is liable, not Carly, unless the prosecutor or plaintiff can convince a judge to pierce the corporate veil. Same person, same act, but in the second version there's an extra layer of legal protection.

Corporatocracy (4, Informative)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071238)

The word you're looking for is Corporatocracy [wikipedia.org] .

One important component you left out: the greater ability of corporations to influence government -- Disney, Halliburton, GlaxoSmithKline [commondreams.org] , etc. Other, more "polite", keywords to Google: rent seeking [wikipedia.org] and Public Choice Theory [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Corporatocracy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071304)

The word you're looking for is Corporatocracy [wikipedia.org]

Protip: If you are going to link Wikipedia to bolster a point, choose an article where virtually every sentence doesn't end with "citation needed".

Re:Corporatocracy (2, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071536)

Protip: If you are going to link Wikipedia to bolster a point, choose an article where virtually every sentence doesn't end with "citation needed".

Given the well-documented [nytimes.com] editing of Wikipedia by corporations, it does bolster my point.

Re:Corporatocracy (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071662)

Not in this case. Most of those edits are by registered Wikipedians, with interesting criticism on the talk page.

Re:Corporatocracy (4, Interesting)

jeffasselin (566598) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071648)

I prefer the term "corporate oligarchy". Means mostly the same thing, but those words actually exist.

Re:Corporatocracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32073322)

To Google? I think you mean "to perform a Google search on".

Re:No surprise really (4, Informative)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071260)

If she pretexts to find out whether there's a leak on her board, she's now acting as a corporate officer, and thus the company is liable, not Carly, unless the prosecutor or plaintiff can convince a judge to pierce the corporate veil.

This is just flat out wrong. There is no concept of "piercing the corporate" veil with respect to criminal prosecution. Veil-piercing is a product of civil law. Moreover, it is very common for corporate officers to face criminal prosecution for acts committed to further the corporate interest.

To convict a person of a crime, one must generally prove an illegal act committed with the proper state of mind (called mens rea, and in financial crimes this generally means intent to commit the ac). In many corporate scenarios, the mental state does not exist in a single person - it is spread out across many people - and is therefore very hard to prove. In some cases, this spreading out of responsibility is such that no single person ever had the necessary mental state necessary to support a conviction. Corporate prosecution is a way to punish such acts without abrogating our general principle that we don't punish people who didn't commit a crime. It is in addition to prosecution of persons, not instead of, and thus means that more crimes can be punished under our corporate laws than could be if those laws did not exist.

In sum, if a person commits a crime, the legal requirements for prosecution are the same whether committed to further a private or corporate interest.

As a side matter, Fiorina was not at HP when the investigation happened. Link [usatoday.com] . More importantly, there was little or no evidence that the chair at the time new about the pretexting before it took place. They hired a private investigator who engaged in pretexting. Although this is legally enough to warrant civil liability, it is not sufficient to support criminal liability.

Re:No surprise really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074298)

They hired a private investigator who engaged in pretexting.

And the punishment? 96 hours of community service.

Re:No surprise really (1)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071998)

Somehow I left out part of my post above: Although veil-piercing is relevant in the civil context, it does not apply with respect to an officer or director of a corporation. Veil-piercing is necessary to reach the shareholder of a corporation. In the HP case, it means that those who own HP stock can't be sued directly for the acts of the corporation or its officers.

The coproration provides no legal shield to its officers. Any officer who commited acts making him liable under the anti-pretexting laws is liable whether he performed the act in the coproration's interest or his own. Moreover, if the officer's act can be construed as part of the officer's job - using a very broad interpretation - then the corporation is liable. Again, the corporate structure means there are more people/entities that can be held liable for an act. Some corporations indemnify their officers for certain types of acts, which means they pay the officers' legal bills and possibly judgments against them. But that doesn't mean the officers are not legally liable to the plaintifs. It just means the officers can look to the corporation to cover their liability. If the corporation doesn't pay (say because it goes bankrupt), the officers would still be on the hook.

FROST PIST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071102)

to5 you by Penisbird vitality. Its

Can we please go back to calling it "LYING"? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071122)

Pretexting is just a made up word to make it look like they did something clever.

Re:Can we please go back to calling it "LYING"? (5, Interesting)

iPhr0stByt3 (1278060) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071712)

We could also remove words such as running, sneaking, walking, jogging and sprinting and just say "going".
Pretexting is a specific type of lie that means setting up the false pretext to be someone else - typically by using valid and/or confidential information about that person or by using the pretext over a prolonged period of time to make the ruse seem more convincing.

I appreciate having this extra bit of information instead of just saying "he lied".

Re:Can we please go back to calling it "LYING"? (2, Interesting)

gowen (141411) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071918)

Better yet, lets co-opt pretexting: How about "Today two men pretexted themselves into my grandma's house by claiming to be from the gas company, then stole all her valuables." What's the difference here?

Re:Can we please go back to calling it "LYING"? (1)

iPhr0stByt3 (1278060) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073960)

LOL, there's obviously situations where it would confuse people. But the term itself is widely used as a form of "social engineering" (there's another one to pick apart) and is usually understood just fine in that context.

Re:Can we please go back to calling it "LYING"? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074968)

Back in my day, they called it Wire Fraud. But I guess that's not as easy for paid media drones to defend.

Verizon isn't letting this go... (3, Interesting)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071160)

If Verizon can find the identities of the investigators who did it, they will prosecute them. They have a few IP addresses, but it hasn't resulted in any names.

Corporate espionage types do a better job of covering their tracks than David Kernell. He was sloppy, now he's going to federal pound-you-in-the-ass prison.

Buzzword hell (0, Offtopic)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071270)

Pretext pretext pretext. I'm e-Pretexting next! And pretexting the cloud!

Re:Buzzword hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32071478)

No dude. Just word hell today [merriam-webster.com] . IN THE CLOUD!!!111

Re:Buzzword hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074356)

Next thing you know all the teenagers will be presexting... yo momma.

Pretexting is such a pretty euphemism (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071324)

We used to call these "criminal impostors" back in the day. If a thief, masquerading to be a cop, pulled you over and then stole your wallet, would you call it "pretexting"?

Re:Pretexting is such a pretty euphemism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32073082)

Most people don't know the word pretexting, but if the "cop" pulled you over, asked for your wallet, and then stole your identity after recording all of the information in your wallet, then yes, that's the best word for it.

Re:Pretexting is such a pretty euphemism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32075018)

Yeah, I must have missed the memo that we're now using "pretexting" instead of "social engineering" to describe such tactics. LOL, heck, when I initially saw the post I was like "what the heck is pretexting?"

Oblig. (1)

blackfrancis75 (911664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071358)

When asked specifically which of Palin's emails he had read, Kernell replied "All of them"

Misleading summary and bad conclusions (2, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071504)

Kernell does not face 2o years for pretexting. Kernell faces 1 year for unauthorized computer access and 20 years for felony obstruction of justice. To the best of my knowledge Kernell has not been sued by anyone over his unauthorized access.

HP settled a civil suit brought by Verizon for US$ 14 million. HP and the investigators hired who did the actual pretexting still face criminal charges. Those charge may result in jail time. There is little chance of a 20 year sentence as there is no felony obstruction charge in the HP case. Each count of unauthorized access carries a penalty which can run either concurrent or consecutive.

Verizon currently sells an HP netbook. HP may buy Palm, but there is no guarantee that Verizon will continue to carry Palm/HP phones. But, that US$ 14 million settlement may result in Verizon continuing to carry HP devices, especially if said devices are popular.

A big Slashdot-y example of this from my life (5, Interesting)

br00tus (528477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071552)

On November 2, 1988, Robert Tappan Morris Junior released his worm, on an Internet that at that time had very little security. It took down a significant chunk of the net, crashing thousands of machines. Morris's father was a bigwig in the national security establishment, Morris was an upper middle class WASP who went to Harvard. Despite all this damage, he did no jail time.

On January 24, 1990, in New York City, three MoD hackers were arrested. I had met all three before they were arrested. In terms of damage, only one machine they had ever been on had crashed, and all three denied crashing that one machine. There was no proof they had crashed it, and dozens of hackers had been on that Learning Link machine. Even if one had crashed it, which I don't believe, how can you accuse three people of the same crime? All three lived in poor or working class neighborhoods in New York, went to public schools etc. The judge said he would make an example of them and sent all three to jail.

I was 16 years old when they were arrested, and this was my first real experience seeing the "justice system" - an upper middle class WASP whose father was high in the military establishment admits he crashed thousands of machines and is called a misunderstood genius who made a mistake, and walks on charges. A year later three guys younger than him are arrested for crashing a computer which they all plausibly deny crashing (and how does it take three people to crash one computer anyhow), a computer which had dozens of other hackers on it. They come from working class neighborhoods in Queens, with modems connected to Commodore 64's, not Unix workstations at Ivy League schools like Cornell. They go to jail, Morris walks. An early lesson for me on how America really works.

Re:A big Slashdot-y example of this from my life (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072230)

David Kernell's father isn't exactly a poor working class nobody... Your point still stands but I thought I'd point that out.

The difference is subtle. It means that there isn't a minimum bar that you have to get over before justice evens out. Which would seem to make sense, if you can't hire a good lawyer you are obviously screwed. But that even amongst the very rich, the one with the deeper pockets still wins. Figuring out why that might be the case seems important.

Though in reality it is likely that justice MOSTLY flattens out for the rich vs richer. But rich vs rich corporation is a fresh jump in inequity.

Compare and contrast - O'Keefe and scumpany walk (1, Interesting)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072584)

while this kid will likely serve time. Yes, it's *that* O'Keefe of fake pimp ACORN "sting" infamy.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/01/fbi-arrests-james-okeefe-at-landrieus-office/34243/ [theatlantic.com]

O'Keefe et al entered a US Senator's office disguised as telephone repair men to tamper with the phone system. One accomplice is the son of a US attorney in Louisiana. All 4 were arrested by the FBI. All 4 skated.

"Justice" in these cases seems to depend quite heavily on whose political party your father belongs to.

Re:Compare and contrast - O'Keefe and scumpany wal (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075984)

while this kid will likely serve time. Yes, it's *that* O'Keefe of fake pimp ACORN "sting" infamy.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/01/fbi-arrests-james-okeefe-at-landrieus-office/34243/ [theatlantic.com]

O'Keefe et al entered a US Senator's office disguised as telephone repair men to tamper with the phone system. One accomplice is the son of a US attorney in Louisiana. All 4 were arrested by the FBI. All 4 skated.

"Justice" in these cases seems to depend quite heavily on whose political party your father belongs to.

Not sure why the parent post gets modded as a troll. It's a very relevant point. Everyone seemed to be in favor of throwing the book at the guy that got into Palin's account (I can't call it hacking because it wasn't), but these guys try to tap a Senator's office phones and get off with a slap on the wrist?

Re:A big Slashdot-y example of this from my life (2, Insightful)

snerdy (444659) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072642)

That's a pretty good point. On the other hand, it's also true that public perception of this type of activity changed dramatically in the year that passed between those two events and the response by authorities had shifted considerably. 1989 was a pretty unique year.

For this reason, it's somewhat difficult to compare the two situations on the same grounds. It is unlikely that economic disparity is not the only influential factor.

Re:A big Slashdot-y example of this from my life (2, Interesting)

chudnall (514856) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073032)

There weren't really any good anti-hacking laws on the books in 1988. The Internet wasn't really on the public radar, and Morris did a lot to change that. I remember this time well because I was 20 years old in 1988 and was doing a lot of the same things Morris was. For anyone who could read a Unix man page, Internet security back then was a complete joke. Every system from pretty much every vendor was trivially hackable from the second the coax was attached. The thing that Morris did that the rest of us didn't was hack together some shell scripts to automate the process.

Anyway, when the worm hit, there were a lot of questions over what he could be charged with. I think the whole "unauthorized access of a computing device" was drafted in response to that. At that time, My cohorts and I were on fairly good "friendly enemy" terms with the college sysadmins, and would dutifully notify them (i.e. brag) whenever we found a new exploit. However, starting right about the time the Morris worm hit, attitudes about our activity started changing rapidly. Laws were drafted, at the Federal and state level. There were mutters from higher up about "teaching those kids a lesson". The sysadmins didn't smile and wave anymore when we passed each other. Computers were starting to become important to "regular people".

Personally, I wised up, and found more creative uses for my talents. I also got my own sysadmin job, which changed my outlook regarding hacking greatly :). But I would have fully expected, two years after the worm, to have faced far harsher treatment that Morris had, and it wouldn't have occurred to me to blame class-ism. It was a time of great change, in technology, attitudes, and criminal statutes.

Re:A big Slashdot-y example of this from my life (3, Interesting)

mellon (7048) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073400)

When Morris released the worm, there were no laws on the books specifically forbidding that activity, so there wasn't much they could charge him with. The MoD hackers were a test case for the new law that Morris' case led congress to pass. So yeah, it sucks, but you can't pass a law making something a crime and then charge someone for the crime of having done that thing before the law was passed. While there certainly are examples of the phenomenon you're talking about in law (e.g., the difference in sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine), this is not such an example.

Re:A big Slashdot-y example of this from my life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074290)

The big difference wasn't income. It was chronology. Morris worm saw lots of mainstream press, and the nattering class freaked out when there weren't laws to 'punish him!' All hell broke out on the legislative and legal front. That's why, a year later, MoD was pummelled.

I may have some historical specifics wrong, but the screeching about Morris caused me to shift what I considered allowable -- we all knew someone soon was gonna be overzealously prosecuted.

Let me get this straight... (1)

jlf278 (1022347) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071660)

The more money you have, the less likely you are to spend time in Jail???? Slashdot strikes newsprint gold once again!

I cant be the only one who has never heard of this (2, Informative)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071718)

Pretexting
Pretexting is the act of creating and using an invented scenario (the pretext) to engage a targeted victim in a manner that increases the chance the victim will divulge information or perform actions that would be unlikely in ordinary circumstances. It is more than a simple lie, as it most often involves some prior research or setup and the use of a priori information for impersonation (e.g., date of birth, Social Security Number, last bill amount) to establish legitimacy in the mind of the target.[3]
This technique can be used to trick a business into disclosing customer information as well as by private investigators to obtain telephone records, utility records, banking records and other information directly from junior company service representatives. The information can then be used to establish even greater legitimacy under tougher questioning with a manager, e.g., to make account changes, get specific balances, etc. Pretexting has even been an observed law enforcement technique, under the auspices of which, a law officer may leverage the threat an alleged infraction to detain a suspect for questioning and close inspection of vehicle or premises.
Pretexting can also be used to impersonate co-workers, police, bank, tax authorities, or insurance investigators — or any other individual who could have perceived authority or right-to-know in the mind of the targeted victim. The pretexter must simply prepare answers to questions that might be asked by the victim. In some cases all that is needed is a voice that sounds authoritative, an earnest tone, and an ability to think on one's feet.

Re:I cant be the only one who has never heard of t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074984)

No you're not. That's because it's an unnecessary term.... social engineering is the correct term.

Imbalance in sentencing for computer crimes (1)

keirre23hu (638913) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071776)

Okay... so I admit I'm no fan of Palin... But as a soon-to-be newly minted CISSP, people like Kernell make me sick. However, when I see a 20 year sentence for his crime, vice 150 years for Madoff who stole tens of thousands of people's retirement, not put their information in the wind where there was potential of having money stolen... I can't help but think: 1. There is seriously something wrong with the way these crimes are sentenced - there needs to be either a specialized court system for computer-centered crimes which legal stuff who TRULY understand these issues, or a serious education program for lawmakers and the judicial and law enforcement communities that deal with these laws and issues. 2. There needs to be more creativity in the sentencing process. Kernell is a criminal, make no mistake. Obviously he is very far from a mastermind, and most of these convicted hackers are script kiddies, the cyberwar equivalent of cannon fodder. I just wonder what is gained by putting this dummy away for 20 years. I think we'd be better served by making him notorius for what he's done wrong and using him as a public example - i.e. banned from working in the computing field, long-term house arrest, etc (whose food and shelter we dont have to pay for).

Re:Imbalance in sentencing for computer crimes (1)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071914)

Comparing an actual sentence to a hypothetical maximum sentence is not a useful exercise. Kernell hasn't been sentenced at all yet, let alone to 20 years. He was convicted of a crime that covers a wide range of activities - everything from lying to an FBI agent, to tampering with evidence, to bribing or blackmailing a witness. The federal sentencing guidelines define a series of fairly small ranges within that 20-year span based on the specific types of behavior and the defendant's criminal history. Although not binding on judges, they are generally followed. In short, there's a vanishingly small chance his sentence will be anything close to 20 years. I'd be very surprised if it's even 2 years for the obstruction conviction.

Re:Imbalance in sentencing for computer crimes (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072346)

He put palin's birthday (which is easily googleable) into yahoo's I forgot my password form. This guy is in no way a hacker/cracker. I bet there are cases of actual hackers getting busted for counts in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of the same, or similar intrusions. And get about the same time.

Hijacking 100's of pcs -> 65k fine
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7451268.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Cracking one unsecured e-mail address -> 20years.

imagine (2, Insightful)

Voline (207517) | more than 4 years ago | (#32071796)

what would have happened to you if you'd gone around distributing thousands of CDs to people that, when placed in a computer, installed a rootkit?

Now, what happened to Sony?

Sen. Mary Landrieu's buggers only got misdemeanors (1, Interesting)

colfer (619105) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072138)

..for what were originally serious felonies of trying to bug a U.S. senator's office in broad daylight in New Orleans. Helped that the co-conspirator was the son of a U.S. Attorney in Louisiana, one suspects. The leader is the same creep who pretended to be a 1970s pimp in order to smear ACORN with a faked the video. Now he's getting off with a slap on the wrist for stuff the Watergate burglars went to prison for.
(They went into the Landrieu's office, in a federal building, and pretended to be a telephone repair crew. The receptionist became suspicious when they asked her where the equipment closet was.)
http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2010/04/arraignment_set_in_sen_landrie.html [nola.com]

Re:Sen. Mary Landrieu's buggers only got misdemean (0, Offtopic)

Danse (1026) | more than 4 years ago | (#32076014)

..for what were originally serious felonies of trying to bug a U.S. senator's office in broad daylight in New Orleans. Helped that the co-conspirator was the son of a U.S. Attorney in Louisiana, one suspects. The leader is the same creep who pretended to be a 1970s pimp in order to smear ACORN with a faked the video. Now he's getting off with a slap on the wrist for stuff the Watergate burglars went to prison for. (They went into the Landrieu's office, in a federal building, and pretended to be a telephone repair crew. The receptionist became suspicious when they asked her where the equipment closet was.) http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2010/04/arraignment_set_in_sen_landrie.html [nola.com]

Someone's on a modding spree apparently. The parent post is certainly not off topic.

Perhaps it has to do with the fact that... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32072460)

...talking someone into telling you who someone else called on their phone is entirely different from breaking into someone's email account.

Who are you calling "Poor"? (2, Informative)

twmcneil (942300) | more than 4 years ago | (#32073800)

This kid is the son of a Tennessee State Representative . I don't think he could be classified as "poor". Sounds like his daddy has simply left him to suffer the consequences of his actions alone and on his own. I suppose in some way you could call that good parenting. My cynical nature requires that I admonish his father with "Mike, you shoulda just called a few favors and sprung the kid."

Can you imagine what would happen if every lame-ass action originating at 4chan resulted in 20 years?

Hey newbtards stop making up new terms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074914)

We don't need "Pretexting"... it's ambiguous in that the english word "pretext" has multiple meanings, and is remarkably similar to the word-of-the-week "texting" already manipulated and tortured so much by the Pop internet.

Lets stick with the well established "Social Engineering", shall we?

(yes, I used "newbtards" ironically. )

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