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Georgia Sues RC5 User For $415,000

Hemos posted more than 12 years ago | from the could-be-maybe dept.

The Internet 453

jeroenb writes: "David McOwen posted a message to the Anandtech forums saying the State of Georgia is prosecuting him for using their computers for RC5 while he was configurator of the computers at a school system 2 years ago. Apparantly they want him in jail for 15 years and have him pay almost half a million dollars! According to the State of Georgia, one single Distributed.net client costs 59 cents per second in datatraffic. "

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Bandwidth? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#99160)

What bandwidth? I've tried it myself, and the amount of time needed for a single packet is not small at all for my Duron 850. It works perfectly with my modem, I don't even see the difference

rumors (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#99161)

Of course Slashdot has contacted the State of Georgia, the poster and his attorney for corroboration of this story, right? Slashdot would never stoop to publishing random rumors with high sensation value on the front page without checking things out first.

OverBoard (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#99162)

Well I agree he should of asked for permission but The jail time and fees that they are asking for are more if I remember correctly then pirating software or recording rented movies those are i think like $200,000 and 10 years in prison. Helping with rc5 is in no way that bad its not evil. Yes it was wrong but it wasnt bad enough to warrant those charges

doesn't cost dick (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#99168)

I'd hate it if someone ran dnet or another similar program on my machine without authorization since I don't even run them on my own machines out of concern of overheating my chips for too long. Still, that doesn't justify the extreme penalty they are seeking. I'm not even talking the jail time. I'm just talking financial. If I were this guy, I'd consider fleeing the country if this becomes something major. Go to Canada or Norway or something.

59 cents per second in data trafic? First, what does a distributed client do for traffic like 5,000 bytes/hour? If you installed on 1000 machines, you're looking at perhaps 5mb/day tops? If it's a state/school institution, they're likely on a T1. So figure they can xfer 5mb in about 30 seconds maybe?

And realistic cost? A T1 should be about $850/month (commercial cost, perhaps cheaper for educational institution).

That is:

+360gb top transfer each month.
+143kb each second.
+423mb for one dollar.
+$0.01 for each 29 seconds.
So this comes out to 1/59th of the cost they claim. But let's assume it's 59 cents per second. At 5mb per day and 143kb per second, that's 34 seconds and $20/day. Or $7300/year.

So at the price they claim, 1,000 machines would have to be running dnet for at least 56 years to come out to $415k. Or alternately, he'd have to have been running dnet on 18,000 machines for three years. I find that highly unlikely.

Now, at the more likely cost basis of 1 cent per second for the T1, and the amount of time/bandwidth he'd have been using, it would actually be more like 1,000 machines running dnet for 3304 years or 18,000 machines running dnet for 1100 years or 1,000,000 machines running it for the last three years.

Re:Text of post, comments (2)

Klaruz (734) | more than 12 years ago | (#99172)

It looks like the lawyer and the law firm exist according to anywho.com

For the goatse scared, here are the links..

A reverse search on the phone number 770-564-1600:

http://www.anywho.com/qry/wp_rl?npa=770&telephon e= 564-1600&btnsubmit.x=42&btnsubmit.y=6

A search for Joyner, David Atty:

http://www.anywho.com/qry/wp_fap?lastname=Joyner &f irstname=David+Atty&street=&city=&state=GA&zip=&bt nsubmit.x=36&btnsubmit.y=10

Make sure you delete the spaces slashdot puts in...

Re:Reduced lifetime? (1)

pod (1103) | more than 12 years ago | (#99174)

Unless you put your machine to sleep or are using a transmeta, mobile pentium, or some other chip and OS that supports lowering the CPU's clock rate while idle (i.e no procceses need CPU time), your CPU stays on at full power running an idle thread waiting for your OS to give it something to do. In this case, there is little to no power savings having your machine sit idling compared to having it do heavy number crunching.

That's not true and you know it. Any modern OS will send NOPs when there is nothing to do instead of a wait loop. RC5 is not just computation either; it's not nearly comparable to a NOP which does nothing (like you'd expect). A real instruction uses many times the circuitry that a NOP does, and most importantly, it uses the bus and RAM and cache (pretty heavilly). A machine is not idling when it's running RC5, it of course appears responsive, but nevertheless, do not be fooled, that load of 1 is not waiting for I/O, it heavy duty CPU work.

Ever stop and wonder why your 3D card gets so hot (even shuts down if not properly cooled) after a few minutes of Quake, while happily running for hours showing spreadsheets? Same principle. More circuitry involved, more heat, more power drawn, shorter life.

--

distributed.net's position (5)

Nugget94M (3631) | more than 12 years ago | (#99187)

distributed.net can confirm that at least some part of what's being reported is accurate. We were subpoenaed for information relating to Mr. McOwen's participation in the RC5-64 project and supplied that information as requested. We also spoke at length with representatives of the prosecution to make sure they understood the actual impact of the dnetc software on the machines and networks in question.

However, part of the subpoena restricts us from commenting on the details of pending litigation. Especially since we do not know the details or circumstances of the alleged activity, we do not want to do anything which would endanger either party's position in this case. We trust that the community understands our position in this matter.

In the more general sense, not commenting at all on the specifics of this case, it is never a good idea to run the distributed.net client software on computers you don't own or administrate. In the four years or so that we've been in operation we've been dragged in to a handful of situations where people have lost their jobs, positions, and scholarships by thinking that forgiveness would be easier to obtain than permission. Nobody, especially distributed.net, wants to see this happen.

It's important to keep in mind that the literal resource consumption of the client (which is as close to "zero" as can be) is often not the only factor important to a business. The existence of prize money with the RC5-64 project is discomforting to many organizations. One tactic which has proven to be very effective is to provide an affidavit that you will donate any winnings to a charity if a client you installed on a company or university machine finds the winning key. In many cases, this has been key to a participant receiving permission to run the client on non-owned resources.

Another frequent stumbling block is with service and support contracts which prohibit non-certified software running on workstations or servers. Your university or employer may risk losing support on their equipment if software is installed that hasn't been explicitly mentioned in the support agreements.

The bottom line is, always get permission first. It might not be as difficult to get permission as you think. And if you can't get permission, don't install the client.

We hope for a speedy and just resolution to this case, whatever that outcome should be, and that we never have to be involved in another one.

Numbers don't add up (1)

MushMouth (5650) | more than 12 years ago | (#99194)

$.59/second only takes ~8 days on one machine to get to $400,000. Something tells me that it has been running on multiple machines for years, and this whole thing is hoax.

What about power? (2)

cjsnell (5825) | more than 12 years ago | (#99199)

If I were the State of Georgia, I'd be more concerned about the power consumption and decreased hardware lifetimes (due to temperature from constant processor use than I would a few hundred Kb of data a day. Try feeling your CPU heatsink after a day of running the dnet client and you'll see what I mean.


--

Re:Reduced lifetime? (2)

cjsnell (5825) | more than 12 years ago | (#99200)

True... I have no idea what those Georgia machines are but the machines we used when I was in high school were mass-produced low-end boxes. I doubt that they had more than the most basic CPU fan, if they had any at all.


--

Re:And the problem is...? (4)

John Whitley (6067) | more than 12 years ago | (#99202)

The penalty *IS* the point. This proposed penalty is not just "a little steep". At face value, this easily appears to be cruel and unusual punishment. 15 years in jail? Give me a break. When drunk drivers who put *lives* at risk don't get that sort of time, much less financial penalty, (especially on a first offense!), this becomes an abuse of the law and of law enforcement.


This is *insane* (1)

don.g (6394) | more than 12 years ago | (#99204)

15 years and US$415k? US$0.59/minute? Who is their ISP?

--

Re:What about power? (2)

sacherjj (7595) | more than 12 years ago | (#99208)

I can agree with the slightly increased power useage, but there are arguments that would state that this would prolong the life of the processor. It is harder on a processor to heat up, cool down, heat up, cool down, that to run at a steady temperature. (Assuming the cooling was good enough to make this a safe steady temperature.) Silicon can handle the heat, so being at steady state is less stressing to the chip.

Reduced lifetime? (1)

SIGBUS (8236) | more than 12 years ago | (#99209)

Maybe if your case isn't properly vented, or have a defective CPU fan.

I've run distributed.net on one of my machines for literally years on a continuous basis. I used to run my other boxen continuously too, but have stopped doing so recently, only because of power consumption.

--

Re:Reduced lifetime? (1)

tenchim (14866) | more than 12 years ago | (#99225)

Pick up a basic microelectronics text that covers FETs and re-examine your statement.

Re:Confirmation? (1)

complex (18458) | more than 12 years ago | (#99238)

the story is true. look on page 3 or 4 of the anandtech thread to see a reply from nugget@distributed.net.

complex

Re:To preempt all the "it's their equiptment" trol (2)

magnwa (18700) | more than 12 years ago | (#99239)

Actually.. they can ignore it for up to SEVEN years and then do what they want. :) It's called the statute of limitations. Magnwa

Re:Slippery Slope (2)

Yakman (22964) | more than 12 years ago | (#99250)

Fact of the matter is, this man is guilty, in a technical sense. But, if cases like this start to gain momentum, who knows how many companies we'll have suing their workers for non-work related internet usage.

The difference is the average employment contract says "You will not misuse company resources, the penalty for which is disciplinary action (such as termination)".

On the other hand, the average University computer policy is "Misuse of computer equipment may make you liable for prosecution". At least that's what I remember all the uni computer systems saying on login when I was at uni.

distributed.net license agreement (3)

Yakman (22964) | more than 12 years ago | (#99251)

I haven't run an RC5 client for about 2 years now, but if I remember correctly there was something the license / terms of use / whatever that said you're not allowed to use it on computers you don't have permission to install it on.

I assume they wouldn't be suing him if he'd asked whether he could install this and use their bandwidth. So he's got no one to blame but himself.

It's like people at work that think they have a "right" to not have their email or web usage monitored. You're using someone elses resources, you have to follow their rules. If you don't like it, don't use it.

Re:What about power? (1)

gordyf (23004) | more than 12 years ago | (#99252)

Windows 9x does not use HLT on idle, therefore a CPU runs just as hot doing nothing as working 100% under Windows 98.

Is this all it takes to troll slashdot? (1)

Mdog (25508) | more than 12 years ago | (#99255)

So all I have to do is write a web page saying that my online rights were violated, and slashdot will post it? 50 here I come!

</troll>

Seriously, whether this story is true or not, I wish there were some sort of higher standard for supporting evidence.

Confirmation? (1)

MmmmJoel (26625) | more than 12 years ago | (#99256)

Has anyone tried to confirm this story? It sounds more than suspicious. The user doesn't have a profile, doesn't have any elevated status (which may mean the account has just been created), and he publically released his "attorney's" name and phone number? Sounds more like a prank to me than a cry for help.

Re:rc5 output (2)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 12 years ago | (#99259)

Where is the explanation of those units? From the context, I think the "k" in Mk/sec and Gk/sec is "keys", which is a measurement of processing speed.

I wonder if Georgia thinks "k" means "kilobytes".

I don't see in the FAQ any mention of how much network bandwidth an RC5 client can use, particularly with the speed of processors two years ago.

Wow, what math... (5)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 12 years ago | (#99263)

59 cents per *second* in data traffic? for RC5? WHOA..

I run RC5. It runs 24/7. Let's figure it out:

1500 for the system (homebuilt)(let's say 3 year lifespan, that's 500/year, or about $42/month.. I paid cash for the components)

my *total* electicity bill: 80/month
ISP + cable TV: 60/month

So, that's $182/month, a bit over $6/day in a 30 day month, .25/hour, .004/minute, and even less per SECOND. And I get a lot of use out of my machine, other than cracking RC5.

Anyone remember when the h(cr)acker stole some AT&T documents (was that Mitnick?) and AT&T priced the documents at something like half a million bucks (although it was listed in their document catalog for like $30)?

So, basically, the "cost" they incurred is bullshit, the jail time is fucking ridiculous (we can't even keep murderers in jail that long), god I'm sick of shit like this.

Yes, they weren't his computers. He should be fired. However, the fine and proposed sentence time is a gross misrepresentation of justice. Can't the State of Georgia go arrest some of them child pornographers the Government keeps talking about instead?

What about spam? (3)

Red Moose (31712) | more than 12 years ago | (#99274)

It would be interesting if this was proven to be true with spam laws: that the student was effectively spamming and using illegally obtained bandwidth that he didn't officially have the right to use.

So where do I go to sue the fuckers that spam me and cost *me* money. I am not a state, I'm a frickin' person. There's probably millions of dollars used in downloading spam (at least in Ireland with pay per minute Internet which is your only option really). A win in this case could be dangerous precedent for Universities that have large bandwidth with SETI clients and so on. Sort of like Napster as well (can't remember the links though when those Unviersities banned it).

Anyway I've lost track.

Re:And the problem is...? (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 12 years ago | (#99284)

You are a troll, and you didn't bother to read the post you're replying to.

Re:What about spam? (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 12 years ago | (#99285)

Maybe if we started calling spammers "hackers" the courts would start assfucking them like they do to anyone who gets branded with that name.

Would spackers be an acceptable compromise? How about this "Damn spackers! I hate spack!"

Hmmm... doesn't really have the desired effect.

Re:Good. (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 12 years ago | (#99286)

Using other peoples computers and bandwidth (reguardless of how little they will be affected by it) for your own personal gain is just plain evil.

So if I run one quick program on someone else's machine, something that doesn't affect anyone measurably at all, that's evil? Are you a fundamentalist... no wait, you must be.

Re:Text of post, comments (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 12 years ago | (#99287)

the State of Georgia is saying E-mail costs 59 cents per second

This is bogus. A single dnet client cannot cost 59 cents a second, and neither can a single email. I'm 99% sure it's a troll.

Companies that don't suck, take two. (2)

devphil (51341) | more than 12 years ago | (#99289)


I was about to post a followup to my own followup, saying that my tone may have (upon retrospect) been a bit sharp. But then I saw your post, so this post now bears double duty...

Where I work (IBM), reading sites like ./ is encouraged in my department (though not to the expense of not getting work done). I'm a QA tester, so I have LOTS of dead time while waiting for this or that to time out, etc, and surfing ./, The Register, Toms Hardware, etc, are "in the line of duty", IMO, as they increase my knowledge, and thus my value.

Sweet! IBM is sounding cooler and cooler all the time. I distinctly recall the Apple TV advertisement that ran once during the '84 Olympics, announcing Macintosh, and portraying IBM as the Big Brother (1984, get it?). I guess IBM has been undergoing some revamping of their corporate culture.

And at the same time, SGI -- who was one of the neatest places to work at -- says they're killing off their employee's website. Bummer.

And the problem is...? (3)

devphil (51341) | more than 12 years ago | (#99291)


Okay, so maybe the penalty is a little steep, but how many times are we going to rehash the same damn story on slashdot? (Oh yeah, I forgot that the collective attention span here lasts abou- hey, look, shiny things.)

It's very simple, folks:

  1. It's your employer's computer, not yours.
  2. You didn't ask your employer's permission to use your employer's computer for non-work-related activities.
  3. You're in trouble.

non-work-related activites (4)

devphil (51341) | more than 12 years ago | (#99292)


First Law of Slashdot: Every extreme example must be countered by an equally-extreme counterexample.

You didn't ask your employer's permission to use your employer's computer for non-work-related activities.

Nor did you, I suspect, when you posted to Slashdot last week Thursday, Tuesday, and Monday. We all use our work computers for non-work-related activities. We all don't goto prison for it.

*sigh* Of course not. Clearly every employer who doesn't have their heads shoved up their own arse -- and even some that do -- recognize that some company time/resources will be lost for purposes of morale. Reading slashdot is like setting aside part of an unused cubicle for a small fridge and a coffee machine, or getting a phone call from the SO to remind you to pick up milk on the way home. No, they aren't strictly work activites, and no, they don't bring in immediate revenue (or whatever).

(The number of people who like to point this out every time the topic comes up disturbs me. What's required is good judgement. My boss doesn't care if I use the web to look up movie times for that evening, but running my own MP3 streaming radio station from my office would be out of line.)

And I repeat: yes, I agree the penalty is too steep. I just don't think the guy should get off scot-free in the name of science.

Re:Wow, I almost did that... (1)

jerrytcow (66962) | more than 12 years ago | (#99310)

I was going to install a bunch of that type of clients in a computer lab at a university. This seems a tad excessive, doesn't it?

As long as you have permission to run it, no problem.

there goes dnet's keyrate (1)

jerrytcow (66962) | more than 12 years ago | (#99311)

I wonder how this will affect distributed.net's overall keyrate [distributed.net] . I'll bet there are tons of clients installed on school/work machines without permission. When word of this gets out it'll scare a lot of people enough to remove any traces of the client.

Re:Numbers don't add up (1)

Knobby (71829) | more than 12 years ago | (#99320)

How many seconds does it take to download a few kB rc5 blocks from a big university pipe? (lets be generous and say 5sec or $2.95)... Now how long does it take between downloads? I haven't run an rc5 client in a few years but I seem to recall something like 1Mkeys/sec for a keyspace containing 2^32 keys that's a little over an hour (70 minutes/block).. So I can complete ~20 blocks/day or ~$60.. To rack up $500k would require something like 170,000 blocks or 8500 days.. The questions are: how long did he work there? and how many machines was he running on? With that info and a better estimate of the cpu type/speed and average data transfer rate you should be able to tell if the numbers make sense...

Re:rc5 output (2)

_GNU_ (81313) | more than 12 years ago | (#99325)

Well... my rc5 output isnt even visible on my mrtg of course... only 3 puters cracking at home ;)
Not even the keymaster would use enough bandwidth to even lag anything above modem afaik...

Re:Reduced lifetime? (1)

ecampbel (89842) | more than 12 years ago | (#99333)

Please ignore the last post. The poster did not know what he was talking about.

Re:Reduced lifetime? (2)

ecampbel (89842) | more than 12 years ago | (#99334)

Unless you put your machine to sleep or are using a transmeta, mobile pentium, or some other chip and OS that supports lowering the CPU's clock rate while idle (i.e no procceses need CPU time), your CPU stays on at full power running an idle thread waiting for your OS to give it something to do. In this case, there is little to no power savings having your machine sit idling compared to having it do heavy number crunching.

Simple answer... (2)

JoeShmoe (90109) | more than 12 years ago | (#99336)

Was there anything in the terms of service (to borrow and AOL term) that prohibited using such a client? Is not, then f them.

I mean serious...if they gave you access to the computers (meaning you didn't hack into a bunch of University servers and install the client, which I suppose you could have done) then they have no business charging you for transfer fees. You have to agree to something before you owe a bill. If they told you "shut down the client or pay X per MB transferred" that would be a legal contract. They can't retroactively apply charges that you never agreed to pay.

Not to mention, a single warez dood trading ISOs or VCDs will chew up a years worth of RC5 traffic. I do hear about any of them getting slammed with this kind of ludicrous charge, although plenty lose their connections.

- JoeShmoe

confirmation? (2)

renard (94190) | more than 12 years ago | (#99341)

so far all we've got here is one member's post on anandtech.

anyone got proof of this one?

this is where your 'traditional' media outlet - hegemonic or not - has the leg up on slashdot - they would have called the AG's office for confirmation before running an item like this.

-renard

First thing you need to do is.... (5)

FooGoo (98336) | more than 12 years ago | (#99356)

Track down a copy of the acceptable use policies from the time you worked there and see if they prohibit the installation of unauthorized software. Also, did anyone help you do this and was your supervisor aware of this? You need to start tracking down other employees that you may have told about this. You need to show that it wasn't against their internal policies or that it wasn't kept a secret from the rest of the organization.

Re:What about spam? (1)

compwiz3688 (98919) | more than 12 years ago | (#99358)

It would be interesting if this was proven to be true with spam laws

Not to mention that Yahoo can sue (what's his nick again?) for DoSing the site!
---

There are two issues to consider. (2)

Above (100351) | more than 12 years ago | (#99364)

1. Did he have permission to install/run the client on the computers? We don't have a solid answer to this one, but I would suspect a court would find the answer was yes. The school employed him to administer the computer. In liu of giving him explicit instructions, they were relying on him to A) Stay within the bounds of the law (eg, no illegal copies of software) and B) use his best profesional judgement on the best way to admin the machine. So, assuming they didn't place some more restrictive guidelines on him I don't see how they can complain much about him installing / running the software, from a permission point of view.

2. Did he have the right to use the network resources that he did? Clearly, these cost the university money, and so there is an issue here. Again, I suspect the problem will come down to guidelines. A univeristy that provides students access in the dorms and doesn't prohibit (not prevent, prohibit) things like, oh viewing porn, playing online games, accessing stock quotes (unless in a finance class) etc etc etc would have a hard time complaining about someone running rc5.

Bottom line, they cannot apply selective standards, even more so when they are government sponsored. If there was something in writing that applied to all that covered this, or if there were specific instructions given to him, then he's screwed. If, on the other hand they simply have the general "don't do anything illegal" clause, they are going to have to try and fall back to the "using the computers for something other than learning", and that's a dangerous path for them to walk down. If they go down that road with this guy fairness would demand they crack down on many other activities by many other people (including, probably, reading this article, unless the person is a computer admin or a law student) and would find themselves in a position they don't want to be in.

Oh yeah, $0.59/second? What is that crap? I suspect their actual cost is under 1/100 of a cent per second, if that.

This isn't the first time... (2)

cperciva (102828) | more than 12 years ago | (#99374)

Aaron Blosser [zdnet.com] lost his job at US West and had his computers seized by the FBI two years ago for doing the same thing. Well, almost the same thing: Blosser actually thought that he had permission (IIRC he asked the computer administrators but not the network administrators), while it doesn't sound like David McOwen even tried to get permission.

Oh, and as for that 59 cents/second... I don't believe it for a moment: That would work out to somewhere around 18 billion dollars of damages. More likely the actual figure is 59 cents per day.

Re:This isn't the first time... (5)

cperciva (102828) | more than 12 years ago | (#99375)

Blosser clearly knew he had no permission to run his programs on the telco systems

From the horse's mouth:
My problem was that I got permission from our workstation crew to do a massive install, but I did not think to ask the people who run the proxy server, or the network security folks, etc
His apps ran in the background, but consumed so much CPU time that the entire directory assistance system slowed down to the point where it was unusable.

Nope. Actually the directory assistance system was slow before Blosser installed the software and after the software was removed; US West simply decided to use him as a scapegoat for their problems.

That's how he was discovered, the 411 system crashed, and sysadmins traced the apps back to him.

Again, no. The software was detected (by the network people who hadn't already given permission for it) when they suddenly noticed lots of traffic to entropia.com going through their proxy servers.

Permission would have been nice (2)

cybermage (112274) | more than 12 years ago | (#99379)

According to the State of Georgia, one single Distributed.net client costs 59 cents per second in datatraffic.

First, let me start by saying that they're on crack as far as this goes. Maybe it uses that much for the rare second it actually uses the network, but even then, they're getting raped by their bandwidth provider.

Of course, what this guy failed to recognize is that access != permission. Just because you have access to a computer doesn't mean you can do whatever you please with it.

This was just stupid, but they're WAY off on the damages. As for the jail time, they're probably equally off base. Heck, if the math finally works out to less than $1000 worth of bandwidth, he probably cannot even get jail time.

Re:Text of post, comments (5)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 12 years ago | (#99393)

The lawyer has an AOL email account? If that's true, this David guy should be thrown in jail for choosing such a lawyer to defend a computer related case, but some how, I don't think it smells quite right. Troll? Has anybody tried emailing the State of Georgia people in question? Maybe the State of Georgia courts to see if such a case has been filed?

Re:And the problem is...? (4)

gengee (124713) | more than 12 years ago | (#99394)

This is the typical reaction I would expect from Slashdot.

Okay, so maybe the penalty is a little steep

Yeah, maybe. Even if you assume they bought 200 computers for 1500$ each, he was using a full T1's worth of bandwith and that the computers in qestion are all now broken beyond repair, the fine alone still outweighs the cost to purchase completely new computers. This is without mention of the prison term. Regardless of whether or not he's sentenced to that term - or even convicted - the danger here is the precedent that this sets.

You didn't ask your employer's permission to use your employer's computer for non-work-related activities.

Nor did you, I suspect, when you posted to Slashdot last week Thursday, Tuesday, and Monday. We all use our work computers for non-work-related activities. We all don't goto prison for it.

He /was/ fired for this. That would be the typical employer reaction. The problem here is that Georgia's Attorney General's office obviously knows nothing of computers or technology. Im sure that whomever is prosecuting this case was presented with the facts in a manner that would portray David McOwen as a 'hacker.' (He put a virus on your computers that cracks encryption!). Needless to say, however, this did not hurt the school district in the slightest. Noone noticed for 2 years. That says something about just how transparent Distributed.net clients are.
The danger is in the ///precedent///.
signature smigmature

Simple (3)

legLess (127550) | more than 12 years ago | (#99400)

This sucks, of course - it seems highly unlikely that the costs are what they say, and 15 years in jail is frankly insane. But that doesn't change the facts; Randall Schwartz learned (perhaps) the same lesson the same hard way - if you don't own the computer, get written permission before you do anything not explicitly defined in your job duties. That's common sense. It's harsh to learn the lesson this way, rather than reading about it on /., but no one has a god-given right to hand-holding.

Q: Did he have permission from the school to install the software?

Yes: They can't touch him.

No: Stick a fork in him; he's done.

Regardless of the bandwidth costs - say it only cost 59 a day - it's still money that the school/state wouldn't have had to pay if he'd done his job (and only his job).

He's hysterical: "...the future of all that use the Internet and computers is at stake."

The future of all people who install bandwidth-sucking apps on equipment that belongs to someone else, perhaps.

"We all say so, so it must be true!"

Re:Need more information... (1)

hoegg (132716) | more than 12 years ago | (#99408)

It's one thing to be an acadamian at the school installing software on a bunch of computers you have access to, it's quite another to be paid to configure computers for the institution and go about installing something you don't have permission to.

Now, I don't think installing the RC5 cow is in any way beneficial to the school, but in this case it was his job to decide what software to install on the computers. What about defragmentation software for NT 4? Or intrusion detection systems for linux? If my experience with system administrators at schools is any indication, they are the last word on what software gets installed on the machines.

So whom was he supposed to ask for permission?

Re:Need more information... (1)

morn (136835) | more than 12 years ago | (#99413)

.5M and 15y seems excessive, but it also looks like a criminal prosecution, so those are probably the maximum penalties for what he's been charged with. If convicted, I would imagine the real sentence would be much less.
Hurrah! Someone's noticed! If only I had mod points.

--

A quote from the d.net Official Policies (1)

Magila (138485) | more than 12 years ago | (#99414)

http://www.distributed.net/legal/policy.html

"distributed.net does not condone the unauthorized use of its software on any computer system. You may not run any distributed.net software on a system unless you own the system or have received permission from the owner to run distributed.net software. Running the client on a machine without authorization will result in your removal from the project and will disqualify you from winning. "

As well as from the FAQ

Q: What shouldn't I use to participate?
A: You shouldn't run the client on any machine that you do not own or administer.

Maybe he should have asked before putting it on, ya think?.

Text of post, comments (4)

mrgoat (143500) | more than 12 years ago | (#99425)

While I can't find anything yet on the website for the State of Georgia AUP or TOS, I do know that most govt agencies have you sign a form wherein you acknowledge that they can put you in the pen. and fine you oodles of dollars for theft and such. Well, unless the poster had WRITTEN and SIGNED approval to install RC5, he is probably in for a world of hurt.

Text of subject's post from Anandtech is pasted below:

This is David McOwen, dmcowen674@aol.com. I need everyone's help that possibly can. I worked at a school system 2 years ago that is part of the State of Georgia and was the configurator of the computers. They are now prosecuting me for Felony conviction with up to 15 yrs in prison and wanting $ 415,000. They are saying the Dnet client costs 59 cents per second for the Internet transmissions! If you or you know anyone that can help please contact my lawyer Mr. David Joyner at cdjoyner66@aol.com , phone number of the Law Firm 770-564-1600 . Beside my life and my family, the future of all that use the Internet and computers is at stake. Don't let them turn the good of computers into something so terrible. If it was so terrible it should be taken away from the world and not prosecuting one individual. People were panicking about rumors of the Govt tacking on a 5 cent surchange to supplement the Postal service because E-mail is taking away from their business and now the State of Georgia is saying E-mail costs 59 cents per second and this is not a rumor!

Also we need to know if anyone in the United States or the world has been prosecuted for this. We need to know for sure that they are setting this dangerous precedent, making me an example and everyone is next. They did not give me an opportunity to just turn the client off, they also said that there was no harm done after they turned it off. How can they call it a felony then and looking for nearly half a million dollars! Please help in any way that you can, whether by E-mails or any other support.

Thank you



mrgoat

Re:Confirmation? (5)

DeeKayWon (155842) | more than 12 years ago | (#99428)

Any browser that show the ALT text when the pointer is hovered over images will show you that he registered on AT forums in Oct '99 when they were created. Also, read the thread. One member named Russ has already contacted the attorney's office and has offered help. In case you didn't know, Russ is the maintainer of the TA Cube [tacube.com] account, which is seventh overall in in the RC5 contest. Russ is very involved in RC5, and I would assume he knows what he's talking about. Finally, read the guy's RC5 stats [distributed.net] . Note that he's 94th overall but his current keyrate is only about 1000 kkeys/s compared to his overall of over 55,000. The PCs he lost are probably the ones he's being sued over. I don't think this is a hoax at all.

Re:Good. (1)

Halo- (175936) | more than 12 years ago | (#99438)

All I can say is WTF? "Evil"? How do you figure that? I might agree with "not the best idea" but not evil. It would be another thing if the guy was running a warez server or kiddie p0rn ring off someone else's machine. (or his own I suppose) RC5 doesn't really serve a whole of "personal gain" If GA state was not supportative of it, I would expect them to perhaps tell him to turn off the clients, and maybe slap him on the wrist. Justice loses a lot of its value when it is not applied with some reasonable proportion to the "crime."

Perhaps we should impose a stiff fine for trolling posts like yours?

little late? (1)

Teflon Coating (177969) | more than 12 years ago | (#99443)

Why is it being brought up 2 years after the crime? Seems a bit odd that if it hurt them so bad, they would have fired him and sued him right away. Sounds like they're just looking for some money

Re:Is this all it takes to troll slashdot? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 12 years ago | (#99449)

And we all wish there was a higher standard for /. posts. Study some real trolls before trying again.

Re:What about power? (1)

dankjones (192476) | more than 12 years ago | (#99457)

OOOOOH! and how about the electricity used by the chip to produce all that heat... and the electricity used by the A/C to remove that heat.

And how much toilet paper did he use to wipe his ass while he was at work, and how much time did he spend in the bathroom anyway?

Confused? Read this. [dictionary.com]

Hmmm something is up (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 12 years ago | (#99461)

What he did was totally illegal and unethical but half a million and 15 years?

If this was a private civil lawsuit even a half million is redicolously expensive. Did the school really lose that much money from this evil hacking program out to destory the world. Ohh the horror!

Sometimes these school districts love power trips. I remember someone who almost got expelled for clicking the file menu when the teacher told him not to. It turns out she considered it hacking. Amazing that doing something without permission in an authoritive way is the same as ruining school property. His parents threatened to sue and he did recieve any punishment after that. I hear all sorts of horror stories from school districts here on slashdot. I also remember reading stories of linux 2 years ago here on slashdot in which the interviewer asked several admins about it and the one from a school district mentioned that he would fire the individual and seek criminal charges???

Anyway, back on topic I believe this indiviudal has a good chance of appeal. I believe he does need to pay a fine or perhaps some minimal jail time for installing unathorized programs, but what he is being nailed for is inappropriate. I bet the attorney general heard the words encyyption and cracking and assumed he was trying to crack into their systems and ruin property. He probably did not really understand what RC5 is and what its used for. The user also could of been charged as an example to scare students on why you should not hack or crack on school property.

Some GA companies should worry (2)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 12 years ago | (#99465)

... such as The Web Advantage [thewebadvantage.com] located in Savannah. At 59c per email, they could find themselves in a multi-billion suit against the state in no time :-)

Actually, come to think of it, I wonder why they sued the poor guy with his Distributed.net node instead of those mass-marketing digital ass-sores that have been clogging the Internet for so long.

Simple Solution (5)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 12 years ago | (#99478)

He should just "anonymously" report the State of GA to the BSA for piracy...

The audit alone should cost a few million...

Wow, I almost did that... (1)

japhmi (225606) | more than 12 years ago | (#99479)

I was going to install a bunch of that type of clients in a computer lab at a university. This seems a tad excessive, doesn't it?

Re:What about power? (2)

eclectro (227083) | more than 12 years ago | (#99482)

I don't think wear n' tear is a factor for computers - the vast majority will suffer from obsolesence before any 'actually' wear n' tear problems.

Re:Permission would have been nice (5)

cicadia (231571) | more than 12 years ago | (#99492)

> > According to the State of Georgia, one single Distributed.net client costs 59 cents per second in datatraffic.

As far as I can tell, that statement only exists in the /. writeup on this story. In the message on the bulletin board that started this, he only says that they claimed that d.net was costing them 59 cents/second. No mention of how many clients he was running (being the "configurator of the computers" he must have had access to more than one machine :)

And further down that thread, someone responds to him:

"Wow, you were outputing over 60k/day at peak time. That's around 400-600 P2-300's power, 2 years ago"

I can't remember what a reasonable RC5 rate is anymore, but that doesn't sound like the output of a single client, even if that estimate is outdated by two years.

Of course, even if Georgia is getting terrible rates on bandwidth, say $20/GB, he'd have to be using 29MB/second to be costing them that much. I'm pretty sure that no d.net configuration could possibly use up that much bandwidth.

Re:So? (1)

Oswald (235719) | more than 12 years ago | (#99496)

`where people think that the moon landings were fake, but that television wrestling is for real'

Funny thing is, here in Georgia, we say this about the people in Alabama. I wonder, who do they tell 'stupid' jokes about in Poland?

Seriously, I've lived here almost 30 years now (childhood in Pennsylvania), and I'm still appalled by the culture of insularity and ignorance that dominates in this part of the U.S.

This smells like a hoax. (1)

rf600r (236081) | more than 12 years ago | (#99497)

Doesn't it?

I mean, maybe it's not, but the language just reads like a lot of SPAM I receive.

RE: Confirmation (2)

Ska-Baby (237738) | more than 12 years ago | (#99498)

Well short of having any formal documents to confirm this guy's story, we can make a pretty good guess at this guys truthfullness. First off this guys stats are throught the roof for about a year and he is still at spot #94 for all time RC5 crackers. It would take quite a few p3's to crack as many blocks in 1999 as this guy did, at least 50-150. These stats drop drastically about after July 2000 which certainly supports his story about getting caught. Second, no one has come forward to refute his story. I'm sure that the email address which was posted that correlates to the RC5 stats is being flooded with email full of questions relating to the post. Third, the member in the forum who posted was of "member" status not "junior" status which gives more credibility to this being an actual fact rather than some dumb joke. Keep in mind that none of this is concrete evidence it merely supports the story given to us.

Need more information... (5)

spellcheckur (253528) | more than 12 years ago | (#99504)

It's one thing to be an acadamian at the school installing software on a bunch of computers you have access to, it's quite another to be paid to configure computers for the institution and go about installing something you don't have permission to.

The post is kind of vague as to how specific his job duties were, and if he was just doing a bad job at his position, or whether he was in violation of his described duties. I would imagine a state agency hiring a sysadmin/IT person, would put some clause in regarding malicious or unapproved software.

.5M and 15y seems excessive, but it also looks like a criminal prosecution, so those are probably the maximum penalties for what he's been charged with. If convicted, I would imagine the real sentence would be much less.

Re:Good. (2)

mikethegeek (257172) | more than 12 years ago | (#99507)

"Just explain them what the correct definition of hacking. Writing or altering sourcecode or system-settings e.g. programming. Cracking on the otherhand is illegal. I'm a hacker, but I've never broken the law. I agree that he misused the means given to him but 500000$ and 15 years among hard criminals. Anyone should be able to see what's wrong. (Well obviously not lawyers, but then again ...)"

Of course, eductating the courts is the answer, but unfortunately, the courts are under NO obligation at all to listen to us. Keep in mind, most judges are older people, who didn't grow up with computers.

When Gen X gets old enough to become politicos and judges (almost there), things may start to improve.

Re:non-work-related activites (2)

mikethegeek (257172) | more than 12 years ago | (#99508)

"sigh* Of course not. Clearly every employer who doesn't have their heads shoved up their own arse -- and even some that do -- recognize that some company time/resources will be lost for purposes of morale. Reading slashdot is like setting aside part of an unused cubicle for a small fridge and a coffee machine, or getting a phone call from the SO to remind you to pick up milk on the way home. No, they aren't strictly work activites, and no, they don't bring in immediate revenue (or whatever)."

Where I work (IBM), reading sites like ./ is encouraged in my department (though not to the expense of not getting work done). I'm a QA tester, so I have LOTS of dead time while waiting for this or that to time out, etc, and surfing ./, The Register, Toms Hardware, etc, are "in the line of duty", IMO, as they increase my knowledge, and thus my value.

Re:Companies that don't suck, take two. (2)

mikethegeek (257172) | more than 12 years ago | (#99509)

"Sweet! IBM is sounding cooler and cooler all the time. I distinctly recall the Apple TV advertisement that ran once during the '84 Olympics, announcing Macintosh, and portraying IBM as the Big Brother (1984, get it?). I guess IBM has been undergoing some revamping of their corporate culture."

At my level, it's a VERY cool place to work. And, IBM is far less "stodgy" than I expected. Everyone wears blue jeans and t-shirts, including the managers. It's almost like IBM caught on to the 80's in the early 00's.

And I faced more "big brother" at the small computer VAR in West Virginia I used to work at.

Re:What about spam? (4)

mikethegeek (257172) | more than 12 years ago | (#99510)

"So where do I go to sue the fuckers that spam me and cost *me* money. I am not a state, I'm a frickin' person. There's probably millions of dollars used in downloading spam (at least in Ireland with pay per minute Internet which is your only option really). A win in this case could be dangerous precedent for Universities that have large bandwidth with SETI clients and so on. Sort of like Napster as well (can't remember the links though when those Unviersities banned it)."

Very interesing suggestion, as what this guy is accused of is more or less what spammers do, especially the ones who exploit open relays.

Maybe if we started calling spammers "hackers" the courts would start assfucking them like they do to anyone who gets branded with that name.

I believe this guy deserves to be punished, but what he did was at WORST a misdemenor. He deserves at worst a fine and/or community service.

The fine and punishment the prosecutors are going for are TOTALLY out of porportion to the crime. There are drug dealers and people guilty of VIOLENT crimes like assault who get FAR less.

Re:Good. (5)

mikethegeek (257172) | more than 12 years ago | (#99511)

"He will never get 15 years / $500000 in fines. He will however, go through hell defending himself and getting off with an approprate punishment. He completely deserves it too. Using other peoples computers and bandwidth (reguardless of how little they will be affected by it) for your own personal gain is just plain evil."

Don't be too sure. Most judges know more about nuclear physics than they do about how computers and networks REALLY work.

And pretty much ALL you have to do to fuck someone in the courts is to call them a "hacker". As 2600 found out in the DeCSS case. Doesn't matter what the merits of your defense are once that label is thrown out like red meat to the judge. Of course, having a corrupt and/or incompetent fool like Kaplan for a judge didn't help.

lets work out how they get 59 cents per second (1)

CTho9305 (264265) | more than 12 years ago | (#99527)

thats a load of BS. lets work this out. My university's net connection is about $600k/year (I'm assuming $50k/mo for an OC3). thats ~$1650 per day. thats $69/hr. = ~$1 per minute. about 2c per second. If you factor in the increased power drawn by the CPU (lets say 10 watt-hours per hour), that is still WAY short of 59 cents per second

Re: Confirmation (1)

CTho9305 (264265) | more than 12 years ago | (#99528)

member is actually not a very high status though - its the 2nd level, I believe.

Meanwhile@the atty generals office. (1)

AX.25 (310140) | more than 12 years ago | (#99537)

Ga Attorney General: Whatya listening to Fred. Deputy Ga Atty General: Rush, this internet is cool. Ga Atty General: Yea, Rush is so right. Deputy Ga Atty General: I'm with ya.

Re:confirmation? (2)

EulerX07 (314098) | more than 12 years ago | (#99543)

Gee whiz, this is only insightful if you didn't read the actual thread, here's a post from the guy that is accused, I invite skeptics to just confirm it by themselves:

For the guy that thinks it's a hoax simply contact the Georgia State Attorney's Office or the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the lead Agent in charge of the year and half investigation that he said it took him to determine that running this Distributed.net client is a felony offense as outlined by the Computer administrators at the school and the State is Bob Stanley, the GBI office number is 770-987-9168.

The Law Firm of my Lawyer is 770-564-1600. My Attorney is David Joyner

The charges are from the 1999 Georgia Computer Crime code book Volume 14 Title 16-9-91 to 93 Pages 669 to 672.

David


Now that wasn't too hard, wasn't it?

Re:And the problem is...? (2)

EulerX07 (314098) | more than 12 years ago | (#99544)

Just one thing though :

You didn't ask your employer's permission to use your employer's computer for non-work-related activities.

Through what god-given talent can you say with 100% that he did not have permission, let's look at this scenario:

Admin: Oh by the way Bob, I put a little client on the machines, but it will only work when your computers are not used.
Bob (the supervisor at that time): Sure, no problem.

Two years later the guy is looking at 15 years in jail, and Bob is working for a school district in Portland. Let's face it, we do not have all the information at hand to make such harsh judgments as the one you made.

Re:This isn't the first time... (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 12 years ago | (#99553)

I remember that case, and I think your description is misleading. Blosser clearly knew he had no permission to run his programs on the telco systems, those systems were support systems for directory assistance. His apps ran in the background, but consumed so much CPU time that the entire directory assistance system slowed down to the point where it was unusable. That's how he was discovered, the 411 system crashed, and sysadmins traced the apps back to him.

He isn't the only one... (1)

LighthouseJ (453757) | more than 12 years ago | (#99562)

I thought about installing the distributed.net clients on my school at the time, it was only 30 PC's, but still. I'm on the guy's side, it wasn't like he was using the Chemistry rooms to build bombs or anything, he's furthering security and privacy for everyone else. Plus, like other people have pointed out, the amount of bandwidth he used is so miniscule compared to all the porn people download at school. I say give him $415,000 and everyone give him a big round of applause.

Re:Good. (1)

halftrack (454203) | more than 12 years ago | (#99564)

Just explain them what the correct definition of hacking. Writing or altering sourcecode or system-settings e.g. programming. Cracking on the otherhand is illegal. I'm a hacker, but I've never broken the law. I agree that he misused the means given to him but 500000$ and 15 years among hard criminals. Anyone should be able to see what's wrong. (Well obviously not lawyers, but then again ...)

Re:distributed.net license agreement (1)

halftrack (454203) | more than 12 years ago | (#99565)

correct from the distributed.net homepage: You may not run any distributed.net software on a system unless you own the system or have received permission from the owner to run distributed.net software.

Re:Good. (1)

halftrack (454203) | more than 12 years ago | (#99566)

I agree, but the state attorney, will probably have to try to educate them on technology to convince them that this misuse of trust is worth a 500.000$ fine and 15 years in jail. So the question will be: who's going to educate the obviously misinformed state attorney.

Re:Need more information... (2)

jrp2 (458093) | more than 12 years ago | (#99570)

Absolutely. Let's just hope he gets the "swift kick" he deserves, a few people learn their lesson and the world moves on. I am quite confident that a decent lawyer will get him an appropriately light sentence (small fine, maybe some "community service" and he apparently already lost his job). I assume the folks responsible for the prosecution are probably reasonably aware of what RC5 is by now and are mostly looking to get some buzz on the topic and put some fear in others considering the same thing.

Now, I gotta go now, have to take down all those mirrors I got running on my employer's computers ;) Heh, heh. Just kidding, but I think most of us have crossed "the line" in the past, perhaps not as grossly though.

Re:What about power? (1)

aka-ed (459608) | more than 12 years ago | (#99571)

That probably is chief among their actual concerns; bandwidth is measurable, "wear'n'tear" isn't.

I want to get drunk with Hoagy Carmichael and

Re:And at work, you use the phone for...? (1)

aka-ed (459608) | more than 12 years ago | (#99572)

Personal calls: Many employers forbid this, and it is their right to do so. And setting up the phones to automatically dial a local number whenever they are not in use will probably get you fired just about anywhere, even if it is toll-free, and even if it disconnects for incoming calls.

Copy machine: Ask your boss's permission to reproduce your pr0n collection on the color copier sometime.

Writing utensils, I'll give you that one. If you think that's analagous, though, I'll trade you my Bic for your workstation.

I want to get drunk with Hoagy Carmichael and

Re:Sue this.. (1)

GnuBeest (460570) | more than 12 years ago | (#99580)

After all this time, I still get a giggle out of the torment that site draws from so many people. Their webmasters need to be sainted. Fortunately, most of my friends who I've sent to that site "get it", but it's still a gas to watch the folks who don't.

Re:Permission would have been nice (1)

GnuBeest (460570) | more than 12 years ago | (#99581)

I couldn't agree more. Yes, the extent of the charges are frivilous and uneducated, at best. But he should have bloody well known better. As I was reading the anandtech forums, I kept seeing posts saying, "We can't assume anything, we don't know that he didn't have permission!" etc. Of COURSE he didn't have permission. Yes, US state courts tend to be a bit ignorant in the enforcement of tech-related laws, but this would have NEVER gotten this far if anyone had the slightest shred of proof that he had permission to run DC on those machines. Just because someone hires you to give their car a tune-up does NOT mean you're allowed to take it for joyrides.

Re:And the problem is...? (1)

GnuBeest (460570) | more than 12 years ago | (#99582)

I think, in the midst of all this "but what about all the recreational office Web use" talk, we need to realise the difference between the much more benign (and commonly outlined and accepted by employers) practise of filling your spare time with sporatic bursts of CPU and bandwidth with extraneous Web traffic during office hours, and installing clients (and likely a proxy) that take whatever's left of that computer's power 24 hours a day. Their figure seems arbitrary (especially since they're making such a big deal of the bandwidth, which is fairly trivial with RC5 clients), but there's clearly damages here of some sort that can be collected, if not something tangible that can be metered and tabulated. I'm still waiting for some of these folks running gaming servers on office equipment after-hours to get caught, if we're gonna talk about serious bandwidth.

Re:Some GA companies should worry (1)

GnuBeest (460570) | more than 12 years ago | (#99583)

Because he was dumb enough not to know better. The problem with the mass-marketing spammers is that they KNOW it's illegal, and make every effort to tie up every loose end, stealing resources from wherever they can, then moving on to wherever else so they can start the whole cycle again. It's easier to catch a rabbit in your garden than to find him where he lives.

Re:confirmation? (3)

GnuBeest (460570) | more than 12 years ago | (#99589)

If you'd read the entire thread there, you'd see that apparently it's been confirmed by quite a few regular folks at anandtech. I thought it to be a crock at first glance, as well, but I suppose it's been proven otherwise. The first thing that threw me was the fact that ANYONE in the IT industry would use AOL -- but I suppose if he was dumb enough to run RC5 on public hardware ....

American Law and Penalties... (1)

Thomas M Hughes (463951) | more than 12 years ago | (#99595)

If you've ever paid attention to how the American Law system generally (not 100% of the time, but most of the time) works, it sort of goes like this.

The State files a case against someone (or something), and they find every possible penalty they can lay on that person as possible. Generally, they do this to scare the crap out of the defendents to make them more willing to either settle out of court, or plea bargin to get a reduced sentence.

However, many state legislatures have been getting ticked at the judical system for behaving like this, so they've been writing up mandatory sentancing (Florida specifically has this sort of stuff in response to gun abuses).

My guess is that this case is the prior. Usually, the judicial system doesn't do everything the state demands. The courts are (sort of) good about that.
---

Slippery Slope (2)

UserChrisCanter4 (464072) | more than 12 years ago | (#99596)

You didn't ask your employer's permission to use your employer's computer for non-work-related activities.

I would agree with you in the literal sense. Yes, of course he was using resources that he didn't have permission to use. However, stop and consider this from the perspective of your average Joe on the job.
How many of us don't use our computers for non work related activities? Take /. for instance. Everyone who has their bosses' explicit permission to read and post to /. please raise their hands. I thought so. Or how about checking personal e-mail on your lunch break? Or checking out the (non geek) news sites during down-time?

Fact of the matter is, this man is guilty, in a technical sense. But, if cases like this start to gain momentum, who knows how many companies we'll have suing their workers for non-work related internet usage.

Chris Canter

Re:Good. (2)

sporkraper (465743) | more than 12 years ago | (#99598)

Sorry if a strong opinion trips your internal troll alert. YHBT in that case.

Anyway, if he wins the rc5 contest, he will get $2000 (or 1k if he is on a team...). Plus the increase in lateral penile dimensions coming from all of those keys he was crunching. Installing the client on a boatload of State owned computers to increase his keyrate and chances of finding the winning key is wrong. He does not own those computers and he had no business installing the client on them.

Distributed.net has a clear policy [distributed.net] that says that they will not tolerate this shit either. All of the keys cracked on those machines, as well as the ones cracked legitimatly on his own machine will no longer be credited to him.

You are right, however, in that he is not in the same category as kiddie porn freaks or pirates. He deserves a FAIR penalty which I think I said in my original post. (Checking back I see that I said appropriate).

It's sad that I get branded a troll by people because my opinion is unpopular.
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