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152 comments

Poor young people (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42641213)

The stupid stunts I did back in the '80s were as bad, if not worse, both in the real world and the BBS scene. The difference is no one stored my every stunt for posterity and instant access for all.

Re:Poor young people (5, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641255)

Yeah, I was going to say pretty much the same thing. In high school, a friend and I had a running interaction with NASA security at the Manned Spacecraft Center (Lyndon B. Johnson Spacecraft Center to you modern folk). This involved penetrating the MSC by walking into places we *really* should not have walked into looking stupid / innocent. This was tolerated to a large degree until we found a place were we *** really *** should not have been.

Then we were politely told by security to cut it out. Enough fun. We weren't arrested. It was logged - when my friend went to get some high security clearance they brought it up (as well as asking for the every time we had done drugs since college - every time). Didn't seem to be a problem.

I hate to think what would have happened if we had done this in the past decade. We probably couldn't even get past the first gate now. We'd be in some high security prison somewhere learning really useful things like home made weapon production instead of being nominally useful members of society.

Re:Poor young people (2)

Reverberant (303566) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641451)

Then we were politely told by security to cut it out. Enough fun. We weren't arrested.

Now what would have happened if you kept doing it?

Re:Poor young people (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641561)

Dunno. We were stupid, but not that stupid.

Re:Poor young people (2)

Reverberant (303566) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641907)

I suspect that if Swartz had stopped the first couple of times MIT tried to block him, that would have been the end of it.

(No, Swartz did not deserve years in jail for what he did and the whole situation was a tragedy. I'm just noting that you were warned and you stopped. Swartz was warned and he kept at it).

Re:Poor young people (3, Insightful)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642157)

Of course you're comparing two stupid young kids fooling around and someone working towards a reality where knowledge is freed.

Re:Poor young people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42642443)

Are you saying that was truly his deep down motive?

Re:Poor young people (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42643025)

Have you read his manifesto?

Re:Poor young people (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642563)

And how do you know that we weren't searching for the Texas version of Area 51?

(Well, we weren't but we could have been).

Re:Poor young people (2)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42643019)

Oh, I'm sure you were. Just as I fondly remember breaking into a top secret, guarded, military facility, to take out some rogue agents. ...though an outsider might just have seen some kids rolling around in the dirt at the local airport.

Re:Poor young people (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642579)

The silliest thing about this is that JSTOR is working towards exactly the same goal.

Re:Poor young people (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642981)

Actually, it's a bit more like JSTOR is trying to cover up the underlying wrongness, sure makes academics feel better about themselves though.

It's all about liability (3, Insightful)

denis-The-menace (471988) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641347)

*IF* something would happen, OMG, someone could sue us!

Today, they find ways to make you regret you were even born.

So what's left to blow steam?
Doing bad things because that's all there is left.

You can't sneak into a flooded quarry to swim that's on private property.
You can't jump your bike into a river for fun.
OMG, someone could sue...

Re:It's all about liability (2)

SilverJets (131916) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641381)

Blame the litigation happy culture that has arisen.

"My boy Jonny died on your property. Sure he had to climb a 10 foot electrified fence with barbed wire on top and then get past 5 security guards and surveillance cameras. But you should have done more to stop him. I'm going to sue!!!"

Re:It's all about liability (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642093)

Blame also the courts that refuse to understand that their process is intrinsically harmful, even to an innocent defendant. Unlike a grieving parent, we have every reason to expect reasonable and rational behavior from our courts, but we don't get it.

Re:It's all about liability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42641383)

The nanny state and pussification of society is in full swing now.

Re:It's all about liability (4, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641495)

So what's left to blow steam? Doing bad things because that's all there is left.

Kiddo, there are plenty of things one can do to "blow steam". If you want to do "bad" things, there are generally consequences, hence the "bad". I don't really know what point, if any, you're trying to make.

Re:It's all about liability (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42642247)

"Kiddo, there are plenty of things one can do to "blow steam". If you want to do "bad" things, there are generally consequences, hence the "bad". I don't really know what point, if any, you're trying to make."

      Because decades of kissing ass builds up during our rebellious period. I won't say teen years because it isn't always individuals in their teenage years that are affected. You know when you think most people are morons when you point out their fallacies in their reasoning but still won't listen to you and you have to go your own way which is our way of finding things out and a partial response to the hypocritical world we've created for ourselves. Whenever you push others boundaries it's always bad in their opinion, key word opinion, the other in this case is adults/government. The fact is most things aren't actually bad, others just don't want you to do them.
      Aaron broke a few minor laws that weren't intended for his situation to bring attention to a potentially illegal scam(as far as I know most federal agencies don't allow you to double dip) being perpetrated with public funds. Never mind fully public information being restricted from the public on profit grounds. And if it's not for profit what's the point in restricting it? And what were the prosecutors doing, torturing the guy for doing the public a service to build their careers. Fact is they didn't have shit and should have dropped it when JSTOR did.

Remember Aaron!

Re:Poor young people (1)

nbauman (624611) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641457)

Potassium chlorate, anyone?

Re:Poor young people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42641527)

Perchlorate in my case.

Re:Poor young people (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641569)

Thermite!

The day goes brighter with a little bit of Thermite!

Re:Poor young people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42642909)

Thermite!

The day goes brighter with a little bit of Thermite!

The day glows brighter with some thermite, magnesium ribbon, and a lighter.

Re:Poor young people (5, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642009)

The great hypocrisy is that the older adults implementing all of this zero tolerance all likely have a history that wouldn't stand up to the level of scrutiny they impose today.

The law doesn't care if you inhaled, it only cares if you had the tiniest trace of a dried plant in your possession.

How to fix the broken system: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42642053)

The Trillion Dollar Coin: What You Really Need to Know [marketoracle.co.uk]

This bank is popular with both Democratic and Republican legislators in the state of North Dakota. This idea is starting to catch fire and 20 states are now considering some form of state banking legislation. By having a state owned bank that uses the fractional reserve lending system to create its own money out of thin air interest free, the state of North Dakota has a resource that is counter-cyclical, meaning it is capable of reducing the negative impact of recessions. They can make money available for local governments and businesses precisely when private banks decrease lending. This bank has existed for 90 years and remained stable during the financial crisis. The Bank of North Dakota is one key reason why the state has weathered the crisis better than most, has the lowest unemployment in the country, and has a current budget surplus.

Re:Poor young people (1)

Weezul (52464) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642637)

I did worse.

Apologies for reposting this, but we really need the 25k signatures on the fire Stephen Heymann petition :

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/fire-assistant-us-attorney-steve-heymann/RJKSY2nb [whitehouse.gov]

Please spam your friends! :P

It's a poorly written petition. And nobody who sees only the petition understands that Heymann also drove another probably innocent young hacker to his death, way back when Heymann wanted to be the first ro prosecute a juvenile under the CFAA.

Anyway this prosecutor seems particularly evil.

Perhaps we should take the hint (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42641217)

Perhaps we should take the hint, and stop trying to get some innocent prosecutor fired for doing her job.

Let me guess... (2)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641241)

You were going for a "Funny" mod, weren't you?
The only plausible alternative would be a "Stupid Beyond Belief" mod, and they don't exist...

Re:Let me guess... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42642051)

So some obnoxious Jew decided to jerk the man's chain and got exactly what he played for. Good riddance. It's not like we have any shortage of obnoxious, disruptive and anti-American Jews. Plenty more where Aaron Swartz came from.

Re:Perhaps we should take the hint (1)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641443)

More likely the prosecutor is now going after Tufte.

fuck the "justise" system (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42641235)

more like injustice amirite?

RIP Aaron, we'll avenge you.

So Tufte was a phreaker. He and a pal did this "longest long-distance call" thing. AT&T caught onto it of course, and a tech rang 'em up. The tech just said, don't do it again, don't tell anyone, and nothing happens. But seriously, the tech (and by extension AT&T) could have seriously ruined Tufte's life. But didn't because it was just a silly prank that didn't actually harm anyone.

By extension, one of Aaron's legal team contacted Tufte who talked to JSTOR and convinced them not to participate in the ruining of this young man's life. After all, there was no harm to anyone, and nothing of value was lost or stolen (copies were made, which Aaron subsequently deleted after being caught).

So, in conclusion, fuck the system.

Re:fuck the "justise" system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42641503)

Yeah, but we gotta keep the privately owned prisons filled man!

Re:fuck the "justise" system (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642441)

*THAT* is the biggest injustice we have in this country. Our justice system should NEVER be privately owned or controlled. It's simply immoral and the stuff of bad science fiction. When we see contractors in charge of delivering policy, punishment, pressure or power on behalf of the government, it should be 100% accountable to that same government. Contractor soldiers? NO! Contractor prison guards and management? NO!!! Mail? Hell no. TSA? Well, as much as we dislike it, I would rather not see airport security controlled by any non-government entities.

When does a "prank" become a "crime"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42641599)

At what point does a "prank" become a "crime", however?

Even if nobody was physically hurt initially, it sounds to me like this incident with Swartz still involved at least some cost to those who were dragged into it involuntarily. Time was wasted, there were probably legal fees and other financial expenses, reputations have been soiled, and so forth. Such costs sound harmful to me.

Let's consider a scenario involving you. Suppose that you're giving a presentation to some important business clients, or perhaps to your colleagues and peers at a conference of some sort. While the focus is on you and your presentation, somebody unexpectedly runs up and pulls down your pants, including your underwear. So you're standing there half-naked. Well, it turns out that you have a micropenis, and this is a fact you've been successfully hiding for years. Now some very important people in your life know your secret, and this affects, perhaps unintentionally, the decisions they make regarding you. Maybe you aren't considered for a promotion, or maybe you aren't invited to work on an important project, or maybe people just don't respect you and your opinion any longer. The perpetrator later says it was just a prank.

You suffered no physical injury during this ordeal. There were some negative effects, but you apparently don't consider these to be "harmful", at least from what I gather from your comment. So what should happen to the perpetrator in this case? Would you just shrug it off? Or would you be after this person's head? Something tells me that if you were directly involved, you would not consider this a "prank", but rather a serious crime. You would demand painful "justice" for the perpetrator.

Re:When does a "prank" become a "crime"? (2)

davidwr (791652) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641689)

I should be "made whole" in civil court.

Remember, in the United States, crimes are almost always "the people vs. the defendant" or "the government vs. the defendant" which is just two ways of saying the same thing.

Whether pulling someone's pants down like this should be a crime or not, and if so what the criminal penalty should be, depends largely on society's attitude. Is the frequency of such activity or the harm done by it high enough that the general public wants to stop it so badly that they want to make it a criminal offense? Will making it a criminal offense decrease the frequency enough to make criminalizing it worthwhile? Are there other alternatives, such as public education, that may decrease the frequency? If so, would their impact be helped significantly by pairing them with criminalizing the behavior?

This logic is independent of the impact on this particular victim.

By the way, this sort of "OMG, we have to stop this because of one event" logic is exactly what is playing out with proposed and recently-passed gun regulations in Washington and in some state legislatures. Whether the issue is guns or pulling people's pants down, we need to take a long, sober look at the overall effect of having a law vs. not having a law, not react to a specific circumstance.

Re:When does a "prank" become a "crime"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42642327)

"Whether the issue is guns or pulling people's pants down, we need to take a long, sober look at the overall effect of having a law vs. not having a law, not react to a specific circumstance."

      You know that passing laws is a lawyers way of responding with their religion(law) to try to change reality right? Like any other priesthood they'll see their time against the wall, hopefully soon.

Re:When does a "prank" become a "crime"? (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642165)

All prison would do is render the 'mad pantser' financially unable to compensate you for your loss. Should the 'justice' system be a bit more merciful, all it will do is extract a huge fine from him that should have gone to you as compensation but won't. You're better off if he gets a chance to become a useful member of society and pay you for your damages according to a ruling in civil court.

Re:When does a "prank" become a "crime"? (2)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642233)

The real bastards here are the people discriminating against you on penis size.

Re:When does a "prank" become a "crime"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42643015)

Don't call your mother a bastard.

Re:fuck the "justise" system (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642745)

After all, there was no harm to anyone

Not quite. MIT and JSTOR had to spend resources addressing this problem. (In theory, maybe the didn't really *have* to, but if JSTOR routinely ignored such actions, they'd run in to trouble with the journal publishers. If MIT ignored it, they'd run into trouble with JSTOR. And, they can't tell the difference between something innocuous and something more malicious until they investigate.) As part of it, JSTOR cut off access to MIT. That's the sum total of the harm that resulted. How much of that is attributable as "damage" caused by Swartz's actions is arguable.

Re:fuck the "justise" system (1)

similar_name (1164087) | about a year and a half ago | (#42643041)

I do not think any should be attributable as damage caused by Swartz and here's my thought behind it. If I break a door lock I can be held accountable for replacing it, however I cannot be held accountable for the need to add a dead bolt just because the previous lock didn't stop someone. In the same vain, he could be held accountable if he deleted files or otherwise caused damage, but shouldn't be held accountable for any additional security added as a result.

Justice system reform (4, Interesting)

Kohath (38547) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641297)

Glenn Reynolds [pjmedia.com] just posted his essay Due Process when Everything is a Crime [ssrn.com] relating in part to the Aaron Swartz case.

Cases like the Aaron Swartz prosecution are a direct result of the huge, intrusive, abusive government we have. Unfortunately most Slashdotters seem to support this government and want to make it even larger and more involved in everyone's daily lives. Will Slashdot learn anything from Aaron Swartz's death? Or are we still just a few more government programs away from living in a utopia -- this time for sure?

Re:Justice system reform (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42641351)

Libertarian Logic: I have chronic pain in my knee. Time to get out the bone saw and cut off my leg!

Re:Justice system reform (1)

Kohath (38547) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641397)

Libertarian Logic: I have chronic pain in my knee. Time to get out the bone saw and cut off my leg!

The government probably killed another basically good person during the time it took you to write that. Congrats.

On the other hand, he probably wasn't a geek and probably didn't invent anything cool when he was a kid. So who cares, right?

Re:Justice system reform (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42641399)

Isn't that the same logic everyone else is trying to use as an excuse for gun bans?

Re:Justice system reform (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641515)

Are you saying that is NEVER the correct option?

Re:Justice system reform (4, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641829)

You know what, maybe instead of bringing out this offtopic canard about libertarians, you should read the article. It's thought provoking. Like how in the 80s prosecutors would play a game where they prosecute the person not the crime, i.e, pick a famous person like Mother Theresa and find a crime that would put that person in jail, not because they did anything wrong, but because you're such a clever prosecutor. That sounds not like justice, but persecution.

And how is the complaint that the government has made criminal so much stuff so divorced from common sense, entitled to some epithet about libertarians? Everyone should be worried because when everyone can be charged and sent to prison for random things, the government has total tyrannical power. That's an issue only libertarians worry about? I think not.

Read the essay. It's only 6 pages -- takes you a few minutes. Then come back and explain what in there sounded like the ravings of a "my property GTFO" type libertarian. It contains nothing like that all -- not even a hint. Instead it talks about how the decision to prosecute and what to charge is made in a milieu of total immunity without any consequences at all, and how that decision is perhaps the most important part of the due process rights which we are supposed to enjoy, but instead we have absolutely no protection at all when prosecutors decide to get medieval.

Re:Justice system reform (0)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642285)

You know what, maybe instead of bringing out this offtopic canard about libertarians, you should read the article.

Come on, the OP's post was 75% libertarian-style flamebait. He shouldn't have written that crap if he didn't want to get called on it. The paper may well be the perfect model of even-keeled objective reporting - despite the author being the owner of well-known libertarian blog instapundit - but you can't blame a guy for shooting the messenger when the messenger showed up guns-a-blazin.

Re:Justice system reform (1)

Kohath (38547) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642677)

Because who needs thinking and reasoning and reading and understanding? You want to bash someone for "libertarian-style flamebait" and it's bashin time!!!

Re:Justice system reform (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42641869)

Liberal Logic: Why they call us names. [youtube.com]

Re:Justice system reform (2)

stms (1132653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642607)

Libertarian Logic: I have chronic pain in my knee. Time to get out the bone saw and cut off my leg!

That's a pretty good metaphor for Libertarian Logic. Cutting off a knee that's giving you a lot of trouble is a good solution if there is a better alternative. We're probably only a decade or so away from prosthetics that are as good or better than the real thing. When that happens I wouldn't be surprised if doctors recommend amputation as a treatment for chronic knee pain depending on severity of the pain lifestyle and age. Actually technology as a replacement for what government once did is one of the reasons I lean toward libertarianism in some cases.

Re:Justice system reform (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641375)

Are you saying a Libertarian government wouldn't have data crime laws, or that it would suppress harsh prosecutions, or...

I'm having a hard time figuring out how Libertarianism would be linked to state prosecutions.

Re:Justice system reform (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641487)

Libertarianism in general seeks to abolish most laws, leaving in place only those relating to the protection of property and life. If your computers are hacked, it's your own fault for not having good enough security. Sounds almost good, except that they apply this everywhere. Your house burn down? That's your own fault for not paying the local private fire service to send the fire engine around to put it out. Rival business flooding your phone lines with fake calls, posting advertisments in your name promising ridiculous prices and DDoSing your website? Your fault for not paying enough for hosting, but you're free to do the same back. Go to a restraunt and got food poisoning because the chef lets his precious dogs run loose in the kitchen? That's your own fault too for not inspecting it personally, but don't worry - the invisible hand of the market will close the business down, once word gets around.

As with so many political ideologies, it's the core of a potentially good idea - that the role of government has grown excessive, expensive and invasive, and needs to be tamed - but taken to a ridiculous extreme.

Re:Justice system reform (1)

Kohath (38547) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641537)

And the "ridiculous extreme" is just that. It has the support of very, very few people.

So why bring it up? Are you arguing that the government needs to be able to kill an unlimited number of people whenever it wants because otherwise we can't have a fire department to put out fires? Or can we be more thoughtful than that?

Re:Justice system reform (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42642515)

"Libertarianism in general seeks to abolish most laws, leaving in place only those relating to the protection of property and life. If your computers are hacked, it's your own fault for not having good enough security. Sounds almost good, except that they apply this everywhere. Your house burn down? That's your own fault for not paying the local private fire service to send the fire engine around to put it out. Rival business flooding your phone lines with fake calls, posting advertisments in your name promising ridiculous prices and DDoSing your website? Your fault for not paying enough for hosting, but you're free to do the same back. Go to a restraunt and got food poisoning because the chef lets his precious dogs run loose in the kitchen? That's your own fault too for not inspecting it personally, but don't worry - the invisible hand of the market will close the business down, once word gets around."

      You know we did this for over one hundred years. The toxic side effects are the reason we don't do it anymore. The libertarian view today is the extremely amplified versus what's practical. The current situation may be overly complex but the libertarian view is over simplified. Balance needs to be restored but I won't hold my breath for it.

    Libertarianism only works until all the low-hanging fruit is taken then it falls down fairly often with catastrophic results. Liberalism can pick all the way up the tree so it lasts longer and falls down less often but when it does it can be extremely catastrophic.

Re:Justice system reform (2)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641513)

Any government should suppress harsh prosecutions. Would a libertarian government fare any better on this score? At the very least they'd be more wary of any wrongdoing in that area, as they have an intrinsic distrust of government (hence the desire to keep it as small as possible). Contrast that with socialists who think everything government does is great, or at least fixable.

I've no idea who Glenn Reynolds is by the way, but he's spot on. I see the same in my country where the actions of (our equivalent of) the state prosecutor seem decidedly questionable, yet go more or less unchallenged. For example the notorious "Nekschot" case, where a cartoonist charged with the grave and unforgivable crimes of insulting muslims and black skinned people was arrested by an 8 man SWAT squad in the middle of the night, and detained for 30 hours. They generally go easier even on armed robbers and rapists. And the opposite happens as well: cases that seem to have merit are not even brought before a judge, for no good reason.

Re:Justice system reform (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642243)

Not really, our current government that has degenerated into this mess started out with people so paranoid about government power that they felt compelled to ensure that the people were afforded the tools needed to overthrow it by force (in take 2. The 1st take was so toothless that it fell apart).

Meanwhile, a socialist revolution would be (for now) deeply suspicious of any prosecution that looked like it could be oppressing the workers for the benefit of big capital.

Re:Justice system reform (1, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642405)

Meanwhile, a socialist revolution would be (for now) deeply suspicious of any prosecution that looked like it could be oppressing the workers for the benefit of big capital.

But, since a vast majority of socialists are basically fools who can be convinced of anything that confirms their personal prejudices, they'll continue to empower the government and continue to be surprised when "big capital" uses this power against them over and over and over again. The resulting anger just reinforces the prejudices, making them even easier to fool.

Or we could finally learn that concentrating power in the hands of government overlords isn't helping.

Re:Justice system reform (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642737)

Or we could finally learn that concentrating power in the hands of government overlords isn't helping.

I fail to see how concentrating it into the hands of individuals will be an improvement. Eventually, one of them gets the upper hand and we have a king again.

I'll spare you the ad-hominems against the majority of libertarians.

Re:Justice system reform (2)

godrik (1287354) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641405)

I think you are making a logical leap in your post. The fact that the law is so complex that everybody could be charged and jail for something is definitively true and a major problem. Though I do not see how government involvment is related to any of it.

Involvment and control are different things. The government needs (in my opinion) enough power to fix things, but not enough to screw things up. Associations and the government are the only entity somewhat interested in teh greater good. But associations typically completely lacks funding to solve large scale problems.

Re:Justice system reform (2)

Kohath (38547) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641445)

The government needs (in my opinion) enough power to fix things, but not enough to screw things up.

Enough power to "fix" things is always going to be a lot more than enough power to screw things up.

There's always something that needs to be "fixed" when someone wants more power. He'll always tell you you can trust him too. Sometimes you can. You can't trust all of his successors.

A better answer: fix it yourself.

Re:Justice system reform (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42641519)

Why bother? Obama's got an executive order for that!

Re:Justice system reform (1)

Truekaiser (724672) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642159)

*hands him/her a hammer*
Practice what you preach, go to the east coast and rebuild it. By yourself. Without help.

Re:Justice system reform (1)

Kohath (38547) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642249)

They should fix it themselves. It's one of the richest areas of the country. They need poor people in Michigan to pay for their repairs?

Re:Justice system reform (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642283)

A better answer: fix it yourself.

In other words, do your best to accumulate enough power to 'fix' things (while messing things up for everyone else) before someone else can gather enough power to 'fix' things for himself while messing it up for you?

You said it yourself, "enough power to fix things is always going to be a lot more than enough power to screw things up" (emphasis mine).

Now, look at where you are and compare to Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, the board of Goldman Sacks and most of the current Washington bigwigs and ask yourself, who will get to that level of power first.

Re:Justice system reform (1)

Kohath (38547) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642615)

You argument is an old one:

No one can be trusted to fix anything for himself. Therefore we should give someone vast government power. Because giving someone vast government power somehow magically turns him into a saint. You couldn't trust him before. Now he has lots and lots of power over you. Now we can trust him. Nothing can possibly go wrong. We are wise. See how we care about fixing problems?

Re:Justice system reform (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642675)

Now tell me why my objection to your scenario is all wrong. Something that doesn't involve a fantasy world where the less wealthy pool their resources to fight the wealthy madman but somehow the collective doesn't become a government.

You're not solving the problem, you're proposing a dark age while we re-arrange the deck chairs.

Re:Justice system reform (1)

Kohath (38547) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642729)

We must fight these mad wealthy bogeymen! That's why everyone needs to write me a $5000 check right now! No time to think about it! They'll eat you children and steal your reproductive organs if you wait one more second. Write a check before it's too late!

Do these evil wealthy madmen have a particular skin color you don't like? Or are they part of one of the bad religions? Or is this particular prejudice based on something else?

Re:Justice system reform (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42643037)

Or is this particular prejudice based on something else?

It's based on thousands of years of human history.

It's also based on the clear sense of entitlement some (certainly not all) of the wealthiest members of our society demonstrate repeatedly.

Re:Justice system reform (2)

anagama (611277) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641587)

The fact that the law is so complex that everybody could be charged and jail for something is definitively true and a major problem. Though I do not see how government involvment is related to any of it.

I don't understand. Who makes the laws? It is the government. If the legal codebase is so large, vague, and complex, that every person commits a Federal felony every day, and the government made that law, how is the government not to blame?

http://www.harveysilverglate.com/Books/ThreeFeloniesaDay.aspx [harveysilverglate.com]

Re:Justice system reform (1)

liquid_schwartz (530085) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642415)

I would be interested to know from Slashdotters in other countries if their justice systems have penalties that are wildly out of balance relative to the crimes. Anyone care to provide some info?

Re:Justice system reform (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642417)

I don't understand. Who makes the laws? It is the government. If the legal codebase is so large, vague, and complex, that every person commits a Federal felony every day, and the government made that law, how is the government not to blame?

You, like the OP, are confusing the existence of government with corruption of government. It is a fatalistic view which surrenders our civilization to the worst actors. Government will never be perfect, but that doesn't mean it can't be good enough.

Re:Justice system reform (2)

Sique (173459) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641431)

And the huge, intrusive, abusive government is a direct result of people actually wanting it that way. Democracy means that you get the government you deserve. If one can get elected on a "tough on crime" platform, and demanding stronger laws and harsher sentences secure votes, I don't see this as a problem of the government, but a problem of the people.

Re:Justice system reform (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641469)

Democracy means that you get the government you deserve.

Democracy means you get the government the majority deserves.

FTFY. Don't claim to know how I vote based on how the majority votes.

Re:Justice system reform (1)

anagama (611277) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641547)

Democracy means that you get the government you deserve.

Democracy means you get the government the majority deserves.

FTFY. Don't claim to know how I vote based on how the majority votes.

You get as much democracy as you can afford, like justice.

FTFY. Don't claim that it matters how you or anyone votes when all sides are owned, and not by the majority. I will agree that the majority are duped into thinking they have a voice though.

Re:Justice system reform (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42641967)

Democracy means that you get the government you deserve.

Democracy means you get the government the majority deserves.

IMHO, but if the majority elected government fails to take care appropriately also needs of minorities, it's dictatorship of majority -- not a decent democracy. The key point understanding is that whoever is in power does not have right to free itself taking care of whole nation population and making decisions serving whole population, not just itself.

Re:Justice system reform (1)

Kohath (38547) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641471)

Maybe some of us can learn something this time.

Re:Justice system reform (4, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641439)

"Unfortunately most Slashdotters seem to support this government and want to make it even larger and more involved in everyone's daily lives."

You must be reading a different Slashdot that I am. For instance, you should check out any post that has to do with gun control, s/w piracy or net neutrality.

Also, Swartz's death is a sad story, but I'm a little irritated that so many people are using his suicide to further their own agendas, no matter how just they may be. He left no suicide note. The claims that he killed himself because of his legal woes will always remain conjecture. The guy suffered from depression, after all, and depression is a documented killer. Ten percent of people that suffer from it end up committing suicide.

Re:Justice system reform (0)

Kohath (38547) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641665)

For instance, you should check out any post that has to do with gun control, s/w piracy or net neutrality.

So creating a new neutrality police to harass and prosecute neutrality criminals is less intrusive government now?

Re:Justice system reform (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42642187)

You must be reading a different Slashdot that I am. For instance, you should check out any post that has to do with gun control, s/w piracy or net neutrality.

You talking about all the gun control posts that say registration should be required, or that they need to throw gun owners into jail?
Or
Are you talking about the net neutrality guys who don't actually read what the government proposes in that 3 non-elected people in the FCC will have the ability to shut down any web site at any moment with no oversight or answering to Congress or the people for any reason they want under what was ACTUALLY proposed under Net Neutrality. And every time I bring that up I am called by the /. people a bigot that just hates Obama because he is black.

Yes, you apparently DO read a different /. than the rest of us.

Re:Justice system reform (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42642609)

While i kind of agree, i think you're seeing depression as a single sided issue.

The burden of a criminal case and spending however many years getting raped in prison in the mind is bound to lead towards depression.

Re:Justice system reform (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642773)

The burden of a criminal case and spending however many years getting raped in prison in the mind is bound to lead towards depression.

If that was his concern, than the answer to "however many years" is either 4 months or up to 6 months, depending on which of the two offered plea bargains he took. It's very possible he could have gotten time served, but if he wanted to minimize the risk of prison time, 4 months.

Of course, it would still be counted as a felony conviction. If he fought it out of principle and lost, he could face more time.

Re:Justice system reform (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641543)

"..are a direct result of the huge, intrusive, abusive government we have...'

Oh, sweet jaysus! You sound like one of those believers in faux populist, Ron Paul (FYI, sonny, real populists aren't anti-worker and anti-union and forever submitted legislation in congress which is anti-worker --- read up on the greatest congressman populist to ever come out of Texas, the Honorable Wright Patman, now there was a real populist!!!!).

Try AT&T's awesome influence, coupled with that there "regulatory capture" of the gov't which they, the bank/oil cartel, now own.

Prosecutorial discretion is important (3, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641591)

However, it must be wielded with - pardon the pun - discretion.

It's NOT okay to have strict liability crimes without almost universal knowledge of the crime and likely punishment.

It's NOT okay to use discretion to coerce plea agreements.

In general, the discretion should be based on published, preferably well-known guidelines that all prosecutors in a given geography and who are prosecuting given types of crimes agree on. In other words, there shouldn't be "good luck" and "bad luck" for the defendant when cases are handed out to prosecutors.

You do need proprietorial discretion so prosecutors can deal with things like local priorities, priorities that change over time, laws that have outlived their usefulness, etc. Prosecutors in a city with a high car-theft crime and a publicized crackdown would - and should - be less interested in offering mercy on new car thieves than prosecutors in a city without a high car-theft problem.

You also need to have proprietorial discretion to give leniency where the criminal act may warrant severe punishment but the criminal intent, while present, was not that of a hardened criminal or where "mother nature" has already meted out some punishment. For example, a person who steals a car to joy-ride and wrecks it causing himself severe injury should get a lot more mercy than someone who steals the car for profit. Why? The INTENT was to return the car intact, so the "criminal intent" is much less, and the person's injuries and medical bills will ensure he won't soon forget the experience.

In cases of civil disobedience, the prosecutors in an area should also have a "standard, well-known" response which may be to decline prosecution specifically to deny the citizen the public platform that he is seeking. Another "pre-planned response" may be to seek a very short jail sentence with a long probation period, with a prohibition of associating with other like-minded people during the probation period. Such a response will effectively separate those who are really willing to throw years of their life away for a cause from those who aren't, while appearing to the general public to be showing some leniency.

In the Swartz case, I wonder how differently things would have turned out if the prosecutor had said "Okay, here's our plea offer - 6 months in federal prison on reduced misdemeanor charges. If you don't take it, we'll ask the judge for a felony conviction and a sentence of 'A year and a day.' Talk it over with your lawyer and get back to us."

Re:Prosecutorial discretion is important (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642793)

Interesting and well-thought-out. Have you read the Volokh write-up?

I would argue that in this case it's not civil disobedience, since he was actively trying to avoid being caught. That's not the nature of civil disobedience. (One might argue that he was only avoiding being caught to be successful, and he would reveal himself upon releasing the documents, but that would be conjecture.)

The Volokh piece talks about the accepted standard for punishment in this case, which is "special deterrence" -- since there's little damage, the object of the punishment should be to prevent Swartz from attempting to carry out his crime (or a similar action).

Re:Justice system reform (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641763)

Actually most slashdotters are for a refocusing of the governments efforts. They've been left to the lobby groups and their own devices for too long. Regulation needs to be done but other regulations that have been put into place need to go. I'd go so far as to say peel back every law since Jan 1, 1998 and have done. Require any new criminal law to pass a 30% public vote in favor. The majority of the ridiculous laws have been passed or modified into ridiculousness since then.

Re:Justice system reform (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642181)

You must be an anarchist then, because libertarians generally support the continued existence of the courts and prosecutors. Some support continued government police forces, others prefer hired goons.

Who hasn't? (5, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641435)

I'm guessing every half-decent engineer working in computing has some of this in their past. It's part of the process of how someone becomes an engineer - exploring, testing limits, finding way to use things in ways they weren't intended to be used. I know I did, I know my coworkers did. I work in education, and we've caught a student there trying to hack our network. Give him another ten years, and he'll be the admin trying to keep out the next generation of engineers-to-be. I'm not even an engineer: I'm a lowly technician.

Re:Who hasn't? (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641671)

The problem now is that the law has sort of caught up with computing networks. In the Good Old Days, people did indeed hack into systems, piss off security and make long distance phone calls. But it was on a one off basis. It didn't rise to the level that people thought they needed legislation to protect themselves. There was little legal precedent to go after people with. Then the Feds decided that hacking into systems was a 'crime' and defined it in a nebulous, overbroad fashion. Well, they ALWAYS do that. They define EVERYTHING in a nebulous, overbroad fashion because it's easier and sounds better.

Then, they managed to ramp up the General Paranoia Level (after 9/11) just a bit more. It had dropped a bit after the evil Soviets became more pathetic than evil but 9/11 gave them a golden (literally) opportunity to raise the ante. Coupled with the tendency of police units everywhere to emulate their big brother (the military), you get a legal system with over intrusive laws and overzealous prosecution, both in the field and in the courts.

So remember kids. Walk that nice straight line. No need for nonconformity anymore. We've changed from a race of individuals to a hive. And you thought the Borg were fictional.

Re:Who hasn't? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42641939)

The general paranoia level got a gigantic boost from the morons collectively known as "anonymous" and the other hacktivist. Embarrassing fortune 500 companies and launching DDOS attacks that do nothing but inconvenience the end user has given the government all the reason they need to not only create new laws and ramp up the prosecution of the existing laws. And the government did not kill this guy he killed himself. End of story. People need to take responsibility for their own actions instead of blaming everything bad in life on someone else.

Re:Who hasn't? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42642667)

And the government did not kill this guy he killed himself.

No, the government only threatened to ruin his life over something minor. Then he killed himself.

This is the government's way of doing this. And thanks to the fact that most people are imbeciles, the people agree with the government quite often (TSA, Patriot Act, other garbage).

Re:Who hasn't? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42642657)

"So remember kids. Walk that nice straight line. No need for nonconformity anymore. We've changed from a race of individuals to a hive. And you thought the Borg were fictional."

        Many issues in star trek had a basis in reality often using it to spread ideas. Federation -- US, Klingons -- Soviets, or was it the romulans, ah well. Maybe the writers were recognizing this problem already and were trying to point out this hive mentality as the Borg to us, another idea in a legion of them.

Re:Who hasn't? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42642985)

ha -- I think you are right about that. A curious and clever mind can be trouble for a youngster. :)

I was surprised a co-worker told me about his interview at the company we both worked at. He said the most surprising question was "What sort of things have you blown up?" He told them a few amusing stories and we hired him. Great engineer.

Yet Another True Confession (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42641449)

In the Bush-the-first Administration a friend and I "hacked" into a password-less guest account and over-wrote the login shell script with ftp. This made the low-privilage account a lot less low-privilage than the system administrators wanted. We let the administration know after the fact. They fixed the problem.

By today's laws and possibly those of the time, we committed a felony under both state and federal law. Morally I knew it was probably criminal but common sense and the morals of the time would call it a wrist-slap misdemeanor. I guessed correctly that the computer administrators would be more interested in fixing the problem than punishing us. As far as I know neither of us got into any trouble over it. I didn't. The statutes of limitations are long since expired or I wouldn't be making this admission in public. Within a few short years social attitudes changed and what we did would've likely gotten us some serious campus discipline and a "scare/threat" of arrest at a minimum.

The Ode to the noble Aaron Swartz, (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | about a year and a half ago | (#42641525)

Re:The Ode to the noble Aaron Swartz, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42641681)

My gosh, protest music has gotten so weak these days. Or maybe it's just this particular generation's approach to it. The works of Bob Dylan, N.W.A., and Rage Against the Machine, for example, are far more powerful and resonating than the pathetic effort you just linked to.

Re:The Ode to the noble Aaron Swartz, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42642225)

That's because those were million dollar sellouts in it for the money. No doubt they can produce better music that someone on YouTube.

Funny story... (1)

seebs (15766) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642437)

I got in a ton of trouble for things. At least one, I finally figured out 20 years later what happened.

The college I was at had terms of use. I read them. I followed them.

One of the rules was that you must not access other student's accounts. So I didn't. But I was curious about a lot of stuff, and I did things like write something to check common dictionary words against passwords (this was before shadow passwords). And I wrote something that emulated, down to the effectively-slower bit rate, the behavior of the terminal multiplexer which lived in front of the login process, and gave people fake login prompts, and recorded passwords.

I got in trouble. I was mystified by this. I had not accessed any other student's account.

Apparently, though:
1. No one was actually looking at logs in any detail.
2. At least one student claimed that I had done stuff to them. (I don't even know if it's a student whose account I had a password for; I assume they lost a file and blamed me because they'd heard I had passwords, or maybe it was just a lie.)
3. Also, you're apparently supposed to know that "don't access other people's accounts" implies "don't collect the passwords for other people's accounts."

Nowadays, if I take time to think about it, I can usually spot the intended "or do anything that looks like you might be planning to..." that people assume all rules carry, but I still have to work at it. I didn't even know why I kept having trouble with rules until I started reading up on autism. :)

Similar Experience with AT&T (1)

dave562 (969951) | about a year and a half ago | (#42642507)

In the early 1990s I was into Audix running on System 85s. I figured out that 800-##AUDIX and 800-AUDIX## were back end access to AT&T's entire Audix infrastructure. With the help of ToneLoc, myself and some like minded individuals were making short work of the ##AUDIX range. I was living at home with my parents at the time.

After a week or two (it was not long at all), I was at the dinner table and my mom explained to me that she had a long conversation with AT&T corporate security. They explained to her in no uncertain terms that what I was doing was highly illegal (toll fraud (since they were 800 numbers), illegal access to a computer system (the System85s that were running Audix), and some other things). My dad shared tales of blue boxing from Harvard in the 70s, my parents explained that I was not going to be using the modem for six months, and we all decided that a life of phone fraud and computer crime was not going to be part of my future.

By the mid to late 1990s after having spent a lot of time at 2600 meetings and Defcon, it was very obvious to me that the Feds were not going to take a light hand to those who them deemed a threat to the system. The "old school" mentality that Tufte experienced up close, and that I had a brief taste of, disappeared long ago. The shift makes sense because of how the culture has grown. It went from hackers in dorm rooms at a few colleges, to people on bulletin boards with only a few phone lines, to EVERYONE (practically) walking around with a full blown computer in their pocket that is continually connected to the net 24/7.

I think the difference between curious exploration of computer systems, and cracking with the intent of liberating information is an important one. In this day and age, the authorities are not in the mindset to tolerate either. It is a shame. Good IT people are those who are curious about how things work. Smart people of any stripe, no matter what their profession, will always be testing the boundaries of the system. The human mind wants to know. It thrives on knowledge. It is criminal to lock the knowledge away. Yet, in the system we live in, just the opposite is true. It is criminal to liberate information, and perfectly legal to embargo it.

lots o'blue box inventors out there (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42642605)

Clearly, a LOT of folks understood about the 2600 Hz in band signaling..

edware tufte == first blue box (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42643007)

are we really believing Tufte invented the first blue box? I'm a bit skeptical, having read numerous histories of boxing and never encountered him before.

and i believe woz's claims to have invented it are also spurious. Woz sold a number of them to bookies to make cash but i don't believe he invented it, either.

FTFA "In 1962, my housemate and I invented the first blue box."

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