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Are Programmers Responsible For the Actions of Their Clients?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the ok-now-let's-talk-tortkey dept.

Crime 222

Bobfrankly1 writes "Robert Stuart and his company Extensions Software are being charged by New York authorities, claiming he is promoting gambling in New York because of the actions of his clients. They are charging him after he rejected a plea agreement that would have him plead guilty to lesser charges, adding backdoors to his software, and using said backdoors to gather details on his clients and their customers." Another article on the case at Salon.

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No. (5, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | about 2 years ago | (#42468885)

There's no need to elaborate, is there? The analogies you conjur up in your mind are sufficient to tell you just how stupid an idea this is.

Re:No. (5, Insightful)

NFN_NLN (633283) | about 2 years ago | (#42469029)

I found a similar story on another obscure website:

"An anonymous reader points out the case of Saeed Malekpour, an Iranian-born permanent resident of Canada who worked as a web developer. In 2008, during a visit to Iran, Malekpour was arrested and detained by Iranian authorities on charges that he designed and moderated "adult content websites." In 2009, he was sentenced to death for "acting against the national security, insulting and desecrating the principles of Islam, and agitating the public mind." Malekpour wrote photo-uploading software, and in a letter he sent from prison, he said it was used by porn sites without his knowledge."

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/12/01/22/0354253/web-developer-sentenced-to-death-in-iran [slashdot.org]

Re:No. (1, Informative)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about 2 years ago | (#42469167)

[No.] There's no need to elaborate, is there?

I want to agree, but according to the linked articles, it sounds like they're making headway on proving that wrong.

Re:No. (1)

wallsg (58203) | about 2 years ago | (#42469487)

There's no need to elaborate, is there? The analogies you conjur up in your mind are sufficient to tell you just how stupid an idea this is.

I agree it's stupid, but strictly as a devil's advocate what about lawsuits and/or charges against bar owners & bartenders where a patron gets drunk and drives and kills someone? There have also been periodic attempts to sue firearms manufacturers because of criminal use of their legal products.

These "well they should know" examples are pretty much the same as someone who knowingly writes software used to run gambling sites. His customers apparently, unknown to him, using his product for "criminal" activity.

(IMHO, my only problem with online gambling is insuring that the games are fair and that payoffs occur.)

Re:No. (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#42469611)

In this case I can actually see some point in charging him. To use your analogy, he was running a brewery in a country where alcohol consumption is forbidden.
Is there any use for his software in the US that is not against the law? If there isn't, then the guy is guilty of at least stupidity.

Re:No. (2)

jeremyp (130771) | about 2 years ago | (#42469719)

No, I'd say it's more like he's making brewing equipment in a country where alcohol consumption is forbidden and shipping the equipment to countries where it is legal.

Re:No. (2)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#42469841)

And his customers are shipping them right back, or at least selling their alcohol back in his country. I can definitely see why law enforcement is pissed off at him. But I'm not a lawyer so can't say if what he's doing is against the law or not.

Re:No. (5, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | about 2 years ago | (#42470439)

Why not address the larger issue of why the government has to be everyone's mom? People will gamble. Some people enjoy it. Some people get hurt. The identical thing can be said for anything: mountain biking, ice cream, jogging, or french fries.

How's the saying go? Canada got the French. Australia got the cons. And we got the Puritans.

fucking puritans.

Re:No. (1)

iHambone (2436420) | about 2 years ago | (#42469637)

With respect to the bartenders example: In these cases, the server is alleged to have knowingly served alcohol to an obviously drunk person. There are statutes making that illegal. A better analogy along the drunk driving example line is suing the credit card company that the drunk used to pay his tab. They enabled his participation in the illegal activity in much the same way that the software allows the gamblers to play. I would say the website owners are akin the the overserving bartender, and they probably do deserve to get sued if they're allowing gambling where it's otherwise illegal.

Re:No. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42470043)

Ego check dude. The programmer isn't the bartender, he's the guy that hooked up the water and electricity to the joint.
The guy writing the software is as guilty as Kitchenware Inc. for the murders committed with their knifes.

Re:No. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469541)

That would be like making gun manufacturers liable for the actions of their customers, or alcohol companies for the actions of their (drunk) customers.

What about the distributors you ask? The gun shops, liquor stores, or in this case the hosting company serving up these pages? They facilitate the use of these products which can be used for purposes that run afoul of the law.

Of course, there is the flip side to this argument when it comes to Madoff's programmera.

Re:No. (4, Funny)

idobi (820896) | about 2 years ago | (#42469603)

Let's sue Microsoft for Excel for enabling embezzlement

Re:No. (4, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | about 2 years ago | (#42470171)

There's no need to elaborate, is there? The analogies you conjur up in your mind are sufficient to tell you just how stupid an idea this is.

Actually, yes...if you know in advance that what you're doing is actually facilitating a criminal act. It's called "being an accessory," or even falls under conspiracy, given the level of involvement needed to write software specifically to do certain things. Here's the difference:

1: Being a gunsmith, making a gun, and putting it up for sale in accordance with all laws. Some guy you don't know buys it and then uses it to commit murder; the first time you learn of his intent to do so is when you find out that he did it. Okay, you aren't accountable.

2: Being a gunsmith, and being approached by someone to make him a firearm with no serial number that wouldn't be traceable because it'd have no records. He pays you in cash, and tells you he intends to commit murder with it when you give it to him. Yeah, you're responsible in that case.

Gambling in New York isn't legal. Writing software to be used in New York for gambling is therefore committing a crime. Slashdot just gave this a stupid title, is all..the crux of the question is not whether "programmers are responsible for the actions of their clients," but whether programmers who knowingly and willfully contribute to the commission of a crime can be prosecuted. And they can.

Re:No. (2)

Java Pimp (98454) | about 2 years ago | (#42470287)

So does that mean Jon Johansen and his accomplices are in fact criminals for writing and distributing DeCSS and we were wrong in supporting and defending the cause all these years?

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42470479)

He doesn't live or work in New York. His company is actually based out of Nevada, where (surprise!) gambling is legal.

Re:No. (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#42470569)

Gambling in New York isn't legal. Writing software to be used in New York for gambling is therefore committing a crime.

This does not follow. It's not particularly unusual to build something "for export only" -- to use a car analogy, cars which aren't street legal in the US but are street legal in other countries. And if you prefer booze, the Jack Daniels distillery is located in a county where it is unlawful to sell alcohol.

Yes. (0)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 2 years ago | (#42468907)

I mean, no!

What was the question?

Anyway, greetings, Slashdort! I am pleased to present you with this information.

If you can decode it, you will be able to read it, and you will have eternal bliss.

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Good day and remember, always eat breakfast!

Re:Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469771)

If you can decode it, you will be able to read it, and you will have eternal bliss.

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Be sure to drink your Ovaltine?

No (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42468915)

End of story

Kill all the authoritarians (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42468939)

Too many fuckers running around thinking they have a right to tell everyone what they can do. Why are obsolete Christianity-based laws against gay marriage, prostitution, gambling, etc allowed to exist in the 21st century?

Re:Kill all the authoritarians (-1, Troll)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#42469137)

Too many fuckers running around thinking they have a right to tell everyone what they can do. Why are obsolete Christianity-based laws against gay marriage, prostitution, gambling, etc allowed to exist in the 21st century?

Because you elected them. Idiot.

Holy crap, the US is !@#$%^. What a mess you've made of yourselves.

Re:Kill all the authoritarians (0, Flamebait)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#42469477)

Holy crap, the US is !@#$%^. What a mess you've made of yourselves.

FTA: "Stuart asserts that New York authorities only came after him because they wanted to use him as a conduit to uncover illegal gambling operations in that state. He says the New York district attorney’s office tried to strong-arm him into a plea agreement that would have had him hacking into the systems of his software clients in order to obtain the usernames and passwords of gamblers and their bookmakers to help authorities gather evidence of illegal gambling.

Holy crap! You guys have guns, yes? Why aren't you using the damned things? Your ballot box clearly isn't working. So, ...

[note, I'm not a gambler. I'm just astonished to see you people put up with this !@#$. Shoot the !@#$%^ already!]

I watch British/Euro Football (soccer, to you peons) and some of them are sponsored by betting agencies. They wear their sponsor's website on their jersies for all to see.

Yet your authoritays are extorting developers for plea deals ...

!@#$ your whole damned country! I promise right now, right here, I will NEVER set foot in your country willingly, nor do business with another USA-ian! !@#$ you all and everyone you know who choose to continue to live there! You're all insane for allowing !@#$ like this to happen.

I used to love you guys. Wow, how the mighty have fallen. :-P

Re:Kill all the authoritarians (1)

theskipper (461997) | about 2 years ago | (#42469979)

Your sig is quite insightful.

Re:Kill all the authoritarians (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | about 2 years ago | (#42470329)

:)

Re:Kill all the authoritarians (1, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 2 years ago | (#42470139)

The 4 boxes of liberty are the Soap Box, Ballot Box, Jury Box, Ammo Box to be used in that order. Right now we're at the Jury box stage...

Re:Kill all the authoritarians (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 2 years ago | (#42469859)

Too many fuckers running around thinking they have a right to tell everyone what they can do. Why are obsolete Christianity-based laws against gay marriage, prostitution, gambling, etc allowed to exist in the 21st century?

If you think that a Christianity based legal system is bad, then you have no clue what they'd be like if the laws were based on Islam.

Please understand that I'm not bashing Muslims or Islam, I'm just pointing out that in Muslim countries the penalties for these transgressions are far more severe than in in de facto Christian countries.

LK

Re:Kill all the authoritarians (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42470499)

Why the fuck do you think that the alternative to Christian-based laws is Sharia law? How about a rational, secular system?

Re:Kill all the authoritarians (1)

Dave Emami (237460) | about 2 years ago | (#42469907)

Too many fuckers running around thinking they have a right to tell everyone what they can do. Why are obsolete Christianity-based laws against

There are plenty of "fuckers" going around doing that based on all sorts of belief systems, be they religions, philosophies, ideologies, or what have you.

gay marriage

Of the countries around the world which recognize same-sex marriage, every single one of them is historically Christian. Note the map here [wikipedia.org] .

prostitution

Not quite as overwhelming in this case, but the majority of the places where prostitution is illegal are countries whose primary religion is not Christianity [wikipedia.org] .

gambling

You're probably confusing "Baptists" with "Christians" here. I'm not a theology major, but I don't recall anywhere in the Bible where gambling is forbidden. I do know that the official Catholic position is that gambling is fine as long as there's no cheating and as long as you don't do bad things because of the gambling, like letting your kids go hungry because you lost all your money and can't buy groceries. Did a quick search and the Evangelical Lutheran position is "...the Bible does not speak directly to gambling." As to the positions of other denominations, I don't know and I'll let someone else search if they care.

I know the "Christians are trying to spoil my fun!" vibe is strong, but you need to be a little less reflexive about it. Lots of people want to take away your fun. Consider this very secular guy's editorial [seattlepi.com] advocating increased regulation of violent movies.

Also please note that I'm not suggesting my support for fun-restricting laws. A combined casino/brothel where the cocktail waitresses serve cocaine along with the drinks and the jackpot prize includes an AK-47 is just fine with me.

No (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42468949)

Are plumbers responsible for the actions of their clients?
No. This is just as bullshit.

Re:No (4, Funny)

LordLucless (582312) | about 2 years ago | (#42469027)

Just their motions

Re:No (5, Insightful)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 2 years ago | (#42469139)

Are gun makers responsible for how their guns are used? :)

Re:No (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#42469221)

They are if they sell them to north korea or Iran.

Re:No (or gun corrallory) (-1, Troll)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 years ago | (#42469227)

Are gun makers responsible for how their guns are used? :)

Of course not.

Now hold still while I use this street sweeper autopump shotgun on you and empty the magazine.

Re:No (or gun corrallory) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469259)

What point were you hoping to prove with that?

Re:No (1)

stafil (1220982) | about 2 years ago | (#42469397)

Are gun makers responsible for how their guns are used? :)

Depends.

Are they knowingly sell them to someone who is going to commit a crime?

Do they sell them somewhere where selling guns is illegal?

Re:No (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 2 years ago | (#42469539)

No, and there is actually a federal law about this.

And while we are asking, would you go after Ford to stop drunk drivers?

Re:No (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#42469801)

I imagine a gun maker based in the UK would be in quite a bit of trouble if their guns started showing up in crimes, even if all their customers were abroad. Why make a product that is illegal in the country where you are making it.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42470087)

It's a product which could be used in an illegal way in the state of New York.

However It is explicitly illegal everywhere in the United States and most other countries to break into people's computer systems through a back door and steal their information. It is interesting that committing those crimes is what the NYDA tried to convince the accused to engage in. Even if the NYDA did not prosecute him for those criminal activities demanded by the NYDA, the Federal government may have potentially charged him later. Certainly he would have been wanted for crimes in other countries if he had carried out the demands of the NYDA. This whole thing feels very unethical, particularly the actions of the NY authorities.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42470393)

Are voters responsible for the people they elect?

Re:No (1)

theskipper (461997) | about 2 years ago | (#42470123)

In that scenario, Taco Bell would get the death penalty.

Perhaps (4, Insightful)

CmdrEdem (2229572) | about 2 years ago | (#42469009)

IMHO it all depends if the programmer knows that the client will use said feature/software for illicit activity. If the programmer doesn't know them he`s not to blame. Otherwise he is a partner and should be prosecuted as so, specially if the feature in question has the only possible purpose of illegal action.

Re:Perhaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469131)

Good question, did he or did he not know what it will be used for?Or should I put, are there any evidence that he did know?

The actual charge (4, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#42469725)

Good question, did he or did he not know what it will be used for?Or should I put, are there any evidence that he did know?

The actual charge (rather than Stuart's characterization of it) is that Stuart and his employees "knowingly advanced and profited from unlawful gambling activity by engaging in bookmaking to the extent that they received and accepted in any one day more than five bets totaling more than five thousand dollars."

Not that they provided software which the purchaser of the software used (with or without their knowledge) to accept bets, but that Stuart and his employees actually received and accepted bets.

If Stuart is to be convicted, they will need to prove that charge to a jury.

Re:Perhaps (1, Troll)

ArcadeNut (85398) | about 2 years ago | (#42469225)

So by your logic, anyone who writes FTP clients/servers, or Web Browsers, or ANYTHING that could be used for Illegal activity, then they should be held accountable?

No thanks.

If it's only purpose is for illegal activities, then sure, prosecute away...

(IANAL) I have a feeling that if the guy wasn't selling it to anyone in the US or anyone outside the US that was using it for illegal purposes he probably won't wind up in jail. They've (Not necessarily NY) tried to hold other non-software companies liable for the actions of their customers and have failed.

Not the same logic (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#42469639)

So by your logic, anyone who writes FTP clients/servers, or Web Browsers, or ANYTHING that could be used for Illegal activity, then they should be held accountable?

Your strawman doesn't represent GP's logic because GP said that the programmer should be held responsible if he "knows that the client will use said feature/software for illicit activity." That's different than knowing that the software could be used for illegal activity, even for something so widely used that that knowledge also implies knowledge to a statistical certainty that some user, somewhere will eventually end up using for criminal activity.

And, frankly, it is pretty much the standard that, decades ago, when I worked in retail (at Radio Shack) we were trained to apply: if a customer told us something that made us believe they were going to use the product they were seeking to purchase for criminal activity, we shouldn't sell it to them, otherwise the we (the company and potentially the sales person) could be held culpable.

There's the case where a purchaser goes on to use a product illegally and the seller is innocent, and then there is a case where a criminal purpose known to both the seller and purchaser is the whole point of the sale. Obviously, the seller, when charged, has a vested interest in portraying the latter case as if it was the former; there's a reason we have trials with evidence rather than just deciding criminal cases based on public statements by either the prosecutor or the defendant.

Re:Perhaps (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#42469645)

Well if he writes it in a country where FTP servers are illegal, then why not charge him?

Re:Perhaps (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#42469815)

In that case, yes, they should charge him. But it's irrelevant to this case, because gambling software itself is not illegal, just accepting bets with it. You can write and export the software to jurisdictions where they actually accept bets.

Real reactionary (4, Interesting)

DarthBling (1733038) | about 2 years ago | (#42469073)

This particular excerpt just helps to show how out of control things have gotten:

The case began in February 2011, when Stuart says he and his wife got the Kim Dotcom treatment after about 30 local Arizona law enforcement agents wearing SWAT gear and camouflage dress — some of them with bushes attached to their shoulders to blend into the woods around his house — descended on his home and threatened to send him and his wife to prison for 35 years if he didn’t cooperate.

The search warrant used in the raid said Stuart and his wife were engaged in money laundering, operating an illegal enterprise and engaging in the promotion of gambling. Stuart has tried to obtain a copy of the affidavit used to get the search warrant, but it’s currently sealed.


Why yes of course, 30 Arizona SWAT agents to take down a husband and wife accused of online crimes in New York. Sounds about right. At the very least, SWAT got the right address and didn't shoot anybody's dog.

Re:Real reactionary (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469503)

Their problem was that they weren't illegal aliens of hispanic origin . If they were, the progressives would have come to their aid.

Dumb asses! Bet they don't have children. That's reason #2 they will be the poster couple for low hanging fruit consumed by the Justice League!

Re:Real reactionary (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 2 years ago | (#42470001)

Why should Idaho get all the fun?

Re:Real reactionary (4, Insightful)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#42470293)

The plea bargain is the most disturbing element for me. Apparently anyone can be charged with anything, and then forced to do whatever in exchange for a plea bargain for lesser punishment. The US is a very dangerous place to be right now.

Round 'Em Up (3, Insightful)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 2 years ago | (#42469085)

Seems that the DAs office in NYC should be busy issuing Arrest Warrants for manufacturers of Guns, Knives, Automobiles, Hammers, Crowbars and Household Cleaning Products.

Ahh fuck it -- just arrest anyone who has ever made anything.
We can't be too sure.

I'm sure Duct Tape has been used in many abductions and murders.
And arrest everyone at Google too -- how many murder suspects have been found to have used their site to help them commit their crimes?

Re:Round 'Em Up (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469331)

NYC has tried going after gun makers but the federal government said that gun manufacturers are not responsible for any illicit actions committed with their product.

Re:Round 'Em Up (1)

suutar (1860506) | about 2 years ago | (#42469389)

Don't forget baseball bats. Very dangerous.

I'm confused (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#42469093)

He did do something to stop the illegal behaviour: He didn't sell his software to them.

He should sue for copyright infringement.

Why don't the police go after Facebook? I'm sure many poker nights have been organised via the social networking site.

Re:I'm confused (-1, Troll)

isorox (205688) | about 2 years ago | (#42469203)

He did do something to stop the illegal behaviour: He didn't sell his software to them.

He should sue for copyright infringement.

Why don't the police go after Facebook? I'm sure many poker nights have been organised via the social networking site.

So in the u.s it's legal to own an assault rifle, but not play poker with a couple of mates?

Re:I'm confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469237)

That's because we have no concept of "mates" here

Re:I'm confused (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#42469715)

"pals", "buddies", "friends"...?

Next up (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469101)

Gun manufacturers held responsible for how their clients use their guns.

The liberals up there in New York know this is a perfect test case to get all those Religious Right Republican biddys nodding their head yes along with them up until the time it's too late to say "wait! no!"

Wrong headline (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469129)

The real issue here is: Should software makers backdoor their programs for cops?

Stuart showed Wired a plea agreement [wired.com] signed by former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney James Meadows, which stated that he would plead guilty to second- and fourth-degree money laundering charges and assist the DA's investigations by, among other things, "aiding in the design of software used to obtain records, usernames, passwords, and other information stored on websites using" his company's software.

Illegal. Any evidence acquired by that software would not be usable in court.

Re:Wrong headline (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469617)

Not true. The government is not allowed to perform unreasonable searches, but if a private citizen just happened to perform an unreasonable search, and handed over the information to the government, then that is admissible evidence.

Re:Wrong headline (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | about 2 years ago | (#42469699)

from the last paragraph of the first page of the article:

“They made it clear that they would do nothing. I was expected to do everything, to modify the system to allow myself to get in to get the information they wanted,” he says. “Their whole intention was for me to retrieve information from those databases that were located in foreign countries. They were going to use me to get to the clients. But I’m not a hacker, I’m a software developer.”

They want him to do it and give them the information, not create a backdoor for them to use. That way it's not illegal.

Unbelievable. The correct response is for the countries in which the gambling sites in question, who are having their lawful business interefered with, reside to start taking retaliatory action - trade embargoes, expelled ambassadors, moratorium on extradition, closing airbases, etc.

Re:Wrong headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42470191)

They would probably claim afterward that he had done all of this on his own and use some legal trick to keep him quiet. Not sure how the international part would affect things, but as soon as the government asked him to do it in the US it became the same as if a US agent did it as far as legal requirements are concerned. A civilian doesn't need a warrant for something they find to be admissible, but if the government tells them to look for it or even what they are looking for then it needs a warrant.

All that goes away if they can hide the 'civilian informant' or get them to hide their involvement from the defense.

As always: It depends (2, Insightful)

Aviation Pete (252403) | about 2 years ago | (#42469171)

just wait until we have the first fatalities with civilian UAVs or autonomous cars without permanent supervision. The weasels in management and politicians craving recognition will point all the way down to the poor soul who failed to write perfect code in too little time. This discussion is similar to the one about who is responsible for shootings - shooter or gun manufacturer. Only that at some point there will not be an identifiable person holding the gun, and still people get killed.

Re:As always: It depends (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 2 years ago | (#42469347)

We have already had the first fatality from a civilian UAV: a man was killed by debris when a Yamaha R-Max crashed (admittedly, under remote manual control). Prior to that, several people have been killed while operating remote controled hobby aircraft.

That's kinda cool (1, Interesting)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 2 years ago | (#42469183)

It does mean the CIA is responsible for torture committed by 3rd-parties it transferred prisoners to, doesn't it ?

Depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469195)

Is MS responsible when someone uses Word to write a ransome note? No -- Is IBM partly responsible for how well some concentration camps were ran? Maybe

Don't anyone tell Google or Zynga (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 years ago | (#42469207)

after all, both Google and Zynga do gambling too.

Jurors, do your duty. (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about 2 years ago | (#42469285)

Asinine shit like this is why we need to maintain our right to trial by jury. If you're ever called to serve on a jury, please remember that when you do so, you are directly exercising the people's sovereign power to determine a just verdict of the case before you. A jury has the right to return a not guilty verdict if they so choose, even though the prosecutor and the judge will lie to you and tell you otherwise. Remember, you OUTRANK the entire government when you're a jury.

-jcr

Re:Jurors, do your duty. (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42469925)

This is why I decided to answer a summons and not even try to get out of a trial. Then they cancelled my group. Whatever.

Re:Jurors, do your duty. (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 2 years ago | (#42469997)

"Asinine shit like this is why we need to maintain our right to trial by jury."

Not quite as easy at it sounds. The way the human mind reasons is not as the enlightenment thought.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYmi0DLzBdQ [youtube.com]

Misleading title? (1)

stafil (1220982) | about 2 years ago | (#42469291)

They are being charged of "knowingly advanced and profited from unlawful gambling activity".

So if they made/sold the software for/to somebody who was going to use it for unlawful gambling *knowingly* then I guess the justice has a case against them.

On a knife analogy:

If I make and sell knives legally, then its hard to be accused when somebody uses them to commit illegal action.

On the other hand if I sell the knife somewhere where selling of knives is prohibited, or if I make it and sell it by order to a somebody who is going to use it illegally and I am aware of that at the time of making/selling, then I guess I am probably at wrong.

IANAL (1)

nbauman (624611) | about 2 years ago | (#42469313)

But here's somebody who is and wrote a comic book about the subject.
http://lawcomic.net/guide/?p=446 [lawcomic.net]

listen science. you can't have it both ways (0)

decora (1710862) | about 2 years ago | (#42469327)

we hear all the time on slashdot about how science is a social good, how it should be supported by taxpayers dollars, how it benefits mankind, cures disease, etc etc etc.

but whenever some case like this comes up, of scientists or engineers being amoral and contributing to awful things (or atrocities), we hear over and over that science has no responsibility for its creations, engineers arent responsible for any use of their work, etc etc etc.

you cant have it both ways. either STEM is a social good, or STEM is neutral and not responsible for anything that happens.

Most of the 'great STEM' people, like Einstein, Sahkarov, Sagan, and many others, would argue that STEM people are not only responsible, they are the vanguard and should take the lead in examining the impact their work has on society. And they did that. The Bullet of the Atomic Scientists was the output of the leading STEM thinkers of the 20th century, and the Doomsday Clock was their way of trying to warn us about what is happening.

Of cousre, STEM can make you a lot of money, and why put your career in jeopardy, and your nice house, car, gaming rig, etc etc etc? Of course it's easier to simply argue away your conscience and, of course, something like 10% of people have no conscience ('sociopaths') so we will always have some issues in this regard.

But when enough people just stop caring, the sociopaths can take over.

Re:listen science. you can't have it both ways (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#42469905)

Yes, cases like this were there awful things happened, like (gasp) gambling! Uuuh!

Re:listen science. you can't have it both ways (1)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#42470373)

we hear all the time on slashdot about how science is a social good, how it should be supported by taxpayers dollars, how it benefits mankind, cures disease, etc etc etc.

Please tell me you're trolling and not seriously trying to treat all of science, or all of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, as a monolithic whole?

Most of the 'great STEM' people, like Einstein, Sahkarov, Sagan, and many others, would argue that STEM people are not only responsible, they are the vanguard and should take the lead in examining the impact their work has on society.

What of Werner von Braun? You never hear of any hand-wringing from his quarter. Nor from Otto or Daimler or Diesel or Ford for that matter. Wilbur Wright? He developed an early "flying bomb". And as for Sakharov, he designed nukes for Stalin with nary a thought -- he later said "in those long-gone years, the question didnâ(TM)t even arise".

Good grief (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469357)

Is this what law enforcement has come to? So what next, when someone bludgeons someone with a craftsman hammer they'll go after Sears? I think this is a case of laziness on the part of the DA and the detectives involved in the case.

Why is gambling illegal? (1, Interesting)

tolkienfan (892463) | about 2 years ago | (#42469365)

Seriously? Who does it hurt?

Re:Why is gambling illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42470029)

Spouses and/or children of those who are hopelessly addicted to it?

The victims of organized crime, which seems to naturally gravitate around the gambling industry?

Society, since we eventually foot the bill one way or another for these people and/or their families who lose everything to a gambling addition?

The economy, since there is so much money trading hands that doesn't get put to productive use?

The government, since the industry produces such large swings in cash (and therefore, power) that it can't properly control it or tax it?

I'm not saying gambling should be universally illegal, but there are large negative consequences to the industry that must be properly regulated and managed on very large scales. Most jurisdictions choose the easy way out by just making the whole thing illegal rather than deal with the mess that comes with it.

Re:Why is gambling illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42470209)

lol gambling "addicts". Show more self-control then a fucking child.

Re:Why is gambling illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42470211)

It hurts the gambling revenue of the state of Nevada. That is considered to be stealing.

Re:Why is gambling illegal? (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 2 years ago | (#42470365)

Foreign gambling operations give no $s to Uncle $am.

Re:Why is gambling illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42470391)

Who does smoking or drinking hurt? Probably not very many people if done in moderation. But, for several psychological and physiological reasons, these are activities that are very, very hard to keep under control. For some people, the addictive nature and the primitive impulses of these activities are overwhelming.

GAMBLING IS LIKE THAT, TOO. There are many documented cases of how gambling has hurt people. Some people think gambling is only a problem for poor people or dumb people. That is not true. Gambling can become a problem for almost anybody. For some, gambling plays on fear, guilt, and the instinctual urge people have to try and better there lot in life. Others feel a type of high caused by their internal risk/reward system being tweaked. Gambling is no laughing matter.

....it depends.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469411)

If a programmer knowingly and willingly develops software with the intent for his clients to commit a crime... then absolutely they should be held liable as an accomplice to the crime. If they didn't intend for it to be used illgally then no they shouldn't, and they shouldn't be held liable for unintended downstream consequences. The problem is that it hard to prove one way or another, that's why we have a legal system to sort these things out and why we have a presumption of innocense until proven guilty.

YES. Says it right here where you signed.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469445)

Probably says it in hebrew or some other bloated confusing legal jargon in the employment agreement the programmer signed. And if not, then its probably somewhere in the severance-package agreement they signed in exchange for that extra two-months pay.

Word of caution to noobs who are only a few years out of college: This is the kinda crap they don't prepare you for when you get out into the real world. Beware the vaporware and fraud scams you might become the patsy for when things get legal.

jungle drive, carbonite and other cloud storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469483)

I use them because a fire safe only protects against fires and not vicious psychopaths in camo with shotguns and rifles.

gun manufacturers are not responsible (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#42469529)

gun manufacturers are not responsible for users of there guns.

That's the difference between law and morality (1)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about 2 years ago | (#42469679)

the legal question "Is the programmer responsible for what their client does with the software they write?"

the moral question "Should the programmer have written the software?"

Seriously, most of us work on rubbish that rips people off. The thin red line of 'legal' vs 'illegal' is just as much an abuse of law as what the government is doing. Don't want to get in trouble for writing dodgy software?

.. stop writing it.

Re:That's the difference between law and morality (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#42469999)

It's an abuse of law to draw a distinction between legal and illegal? That doesn't even make sense.

And while there is a difference between legal and moral, that goes both ways; there's plenty of stuff that is illegal but moral, and I don't see any reason to think the software was in any way immoral or scammed people.

Re:That's the difference between law and morality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42470031)

Gambling isn't ripping people off. People go into it willingly, knowing the likelihood of getting a favorable return. Ripping people off would be setting up a gambling site in which no one ever wins but contains dozens of testimonials about successful players. He saw a market and supplied that LEGAL market in other countries.

Your argument sounds very close to "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.".

The government is being far more abusive just in this case alone by the plea deal they offered him, with him to collect data on their behalf, which they are explicitly NOT legally allowed to do themselves. The government picks and chooses which laws it follows and plays semantics with them even then, ignoring the 'spirit' of the law all the time. This guy apparently took great effort to make sure he was on the right side of the law.

Car Analogy (2, Insightful)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | about 2 years ago | (#42469711)

Are car designers responsible for drunk drivers?

Re:Car Analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42470377)

Are car designers responsible for drunk drivers?

Does their design replace the passenger seat with a beer keg?

Hurry up! (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 2 years ago | (#42469769)

Good opportunity to put in jail all weapon makers for multiple murders

Oh someone PLEASE tell the software uses MS-DOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469807)

That is all.

Programmer Responsible For the Action of The User? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469839)

Back door? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469949)

Is anyone else concerned with the fact that the state of Ney York wanted a back door built into software to collect data? I expect that kind of behavior from Uncle Sam, but this seems pretty onerous for a state.

Obligitory microsoft analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42469965)

If programmers were responsible for misuse of their software, Microsoft would be out of business due to the number of people using windows to program exploits.

Send the DA to Jail (4, Insightful)

FoolishBluntman (880780) | about 2 years ago | (#42470093)

I think the plea bargain agreement(http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2012/12/Robert-Stuart_Plea-Agreement.pdf) should land Manhattan Assistant District Attorney James Meadows in Federal Jail.
He is asking the software vendor to commit theft on a large scale.
I'm not sure of the exact change, something like conspiracy to commit grand theft.

I might suggest that.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#42470131)

... programmers could be held responsible for whatever it is that they explicitly designed the software to do, to the extent that fitness for a particular purpose is actually applicable. Other than that, no.

EULA / Disclaimer .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42470395)

.. says it all: that's what it is for.

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