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The Joys of School And "Website Protection"

Hemos posted more than 12 years ago | from the stupid-stupid-laws dept.

Education 333

jeffy124 writes "New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Torricelli has proposed federal legislation titled the School Website Protection Act of 2001 that would criminally punish students who disrupt school networks, whether it be elemantary, high school, or college. Unfortunately, the legislation makes common acts like sending e-mail to a teacher an offense that can be investigated by the Secret Service and punishable by 10 years incarceration. It almost seems as if sitting at a lab computer and logging in is illegal."

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Re:My Thoughts... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2177660)

1. If the schools servers suck, let them suck.
2. Do those things on your own time.

And average rapist gets 2-3 years. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2177661)

Based on the punishment, it is obvious that defacing websites is a far more serious crime than rape, as is software piracy.

Just admit it. Defacing a website merits no worse a punishment than defacing a brick wall with a spraycan. Fines to cover materials and labor. And some community service.

Just as piracy merits no worse a sentence than is received for petty theft. 24 hours detained, tops. With no fine if you return the "stolen merchandise". Which I guess means just deleting it.

Get over the "seriousness" of these computer crimes. Save the decades long jail sentences for the real dangers to society.

Re:What is it with politicians??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2177662)

The current trend in the USA is to make illegal almost everything possible, then bring charges against only those people you don't like.

My guess is two-thirds to three-quarters of current laws in the US today have no merit in themselves, but exist only to make enforcement and prosecution easier for the authorities.

Re:Sent message to Senator Leahy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2177663)

"Simply sending an unsolicited e-mail to a teacher (as in teh teacher didn't request the e-mail) "

Please tell me you spellchecked that before you sent it.

Re:Definitely Bad News (tm)! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2177664)

Since some cens^H^H^H^Hmoderator chose to mod this non-PC but true comment down:

Around here, it's generally DWBAWFGALABAAHTLGRCKMPIARN: Driving while black and wearing Fubu Gear, acting like a badass, and having too-loud gangsta rap cop-killer "music" playing in a residential neighborhood.

And I support the police in their efforts to stop it. I wonder if it's ever occured to these self-styled minority activists that the reason certain minorities are stopped in disproportionate numbers is that the cops observed that they commit a disproportionate number of crimes.


Re:once again... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2177667)

Vague wording is no better than malicious wording.

This law is utterly unnecessary, and the potential abuses far outweigh the potential benefits.

There is no way that ordinary school disciplinary procedures could not handle this stuff. Should side-stepping windows nt permissions & playing Starcraft in the library be punishable by a maximum of 10 years in jail, while writing "PRINCIPL REED IS A FUKWAD" on the bathroom walls (requiring a repaint) will give you at worst a week's suspension? That's not what the bill says, you say, it's just a possible misinterpretation. Well, if a court could misinterpret it that way, then the bill should not be passed in its current form. If it's passed at all.

Schools are places of learning. Therefore we should encourage students to play with the computer systems and learn from them, not subliminally tell them that exploring what is possible on the system could cross a (very vague) line that could land them in jail. In its present form, the bill does that, and clarifying things to the point where the bill is not unacceptably vague would essentially just say "doing illegal computer things is even more illegal if you do them to a computer network."


Re:Computers don't belong in schools (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2177669)

What, exactly, is the purpose of your argument? Do you want to argue that computers should be removed from schools, that computer literacy should not be taught, or that computer literacy should not be mandatory?

As far as the first goes, computers are tools. Whether it helps students in later life to know how to use the computer as a tool, the computer can help them as students. Our school's computer lab isn't primarily there so that students can learn to use computers; it's so that students can do schoolwork between classes, type things up, research things on the internet. At the (private) high school i attended last year, written papers were not accepted; all major assignments turned in had to be typed. Whether this is a good thing (reading typed material is easier for teachers than written material) or a bad thing (it allows kids who have a handwriting problem to remain with a handwriting problem), you can decide. However in my opinion computer labs should be provided as a courtesy to the students, so they don't have to go home to type things or check e-mail. (Especially since some of us live far from the school, and in some areas *gasp* schools and libraries are the only computer access the kids have.) The students need to use computers sometimes. The schools can easily provide computers for student use. How can you possibly argue against that? (if you were, i mean..)

As to the second, if students are interested in something they should definitely be given a chance to pursue that course. Good schools should enable students to grow in the ways they want to grow. (This is why i personally am a big proponent of networked schools giving students administrator powers, and kind of apprenticing them in fixing network problems and helping students and teachers in need. the bill which is ostensibly currently being discussed seems to go directly against that idea.)

As to the third, perhaps you are right; and i don't quite see why they put computers in elementary schools, to be honest. OK, maybe playing Jumpstart 2ndGrade for 20 minutes will give them some math exersize. But most elementary-level computer classes are overkill, and often are taught by teachers who don't know anything at all about the computers. These computer classes are, of course, pure soulfood to those few kids to whom computers seem magic and 10 PRINT "HELLO WORLD"; 20 GOTO 10 seems at first like the coolest thing in the universe, and they'll just gobble them up; still, for most of the students there, the need for such classes is uncertain. But beyond trying to find a way that the kids who just think "OOH! NIFTY BEEPING BOXES! WANT TO PLAY!" get ample time (if they so desire) to play and grow and gain experience with what the nifty beeping boxes can do (besides games)..

..there really are a minimal number of computer literacy things i would say do need to be taught in schools. I'm thinking of typing, which like using a calculator and such is an absolutely necessary life skill in this day and age, regardless of where on the social ladder you end up. Purely mechanical things like typing probably do come more naturally if your brain is exposed to it at an early age. And beyond that, while you may be right in that much elementry school computer education is unneeded, how much of elementary school education *IS* needed? How do you justify the idea that we need to teach our kids how to make a pie graph, but we want to avoid teaching them how to make a spreadsheet in ClarisWorks and tell the computer to make a pie graph from that? (I would say both are things that you need to have done at least once in your life, but whatever.)

Overall, i'd say that mainly what your arguments seem to work for is the idea that computers used in schools need to be there for a specific set of clearly thought out reasons, not just "Uhh.. computers. There should be computers in the schools." BUT: What *are* you arguing, exactly, and exactly what relevance does it have to the bill this story is about?

I just don't know what to say .... (2)

Helmholtz (2715) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177676)

"... knowingly causes the transmission of a program, information, code, or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally affects or impairs without authorization a computer of an elementary school or secondary school or institution of higher education..."

I just can't believe that this was even proposed. How do these people stay elected? I really want to say something informative/interesting here, but I'm literally at a complete loss for words.

And people wonder why the education system is a shambles in the USA. Making it illegal to think outside of the box certainly isn't going to help any.

Could it be.. (2)

Apuleius (6901) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177684)

..that Toricelli is trying to attract any attention that will distract people from his current troubles (ethics violations accusations) [] ? Why else would he try to re-illegalize something already illegal?

The lines blur... (2)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177687)

A lot of people here joke about how public school is very much like prison. Bills like this will ensure that the joke is no joke.

Federal legislation like this is even worse in that it might affect not just public schools, but private schools as well. The bill itself refers to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 8801), section 14101, but I'm not aware of how to track that down (Google doesn't come up with much of interest).

If it refers strictly to public schools, then private institutions (and the home, for homeschoolers) might be the only place where a kid can really be free to learn. This, to me, is ironic and more than a little sad.

I expect two things to happen if bills like this pass:
  1. Homeschooling will become a lot more popular.
  2. Homeschooling will therefore eventually become illegal, since it's important to the corporations and government that kids be properly indoctrinated.

I don't know about you guys, but it looks to me like the good 'ol USA is slowly turning into its former Communist enemy, the USSR. Oh, there are certainly distinctions (power in the hands of the corps versus power in the hands of the Communist leaders). But I think they are distinctions without a substantial difference.

I think this trend will continue. The laws will get worse over time for the individual. I suspect only armed revolt will be enough to change it, and that won't happen because the general population doesn't have sufficient military strength anymore, thanks to expensive (so the general population can't afford them) high-tech weapons that give the government (and thus the corporations, since they are roughly the same thing these days) a millions-to-one advantage in firepower.

And nobody from the outside would provide military aid to those revolting, since the corporations are multinational and have sufficient influence over every government that matters.

Reading Slashdot is depressing sometimes, because the problems discussed there are usually things we can't do a damned thing about. I have a large sense of inevitability of the corporate police state.



Re:its nuts.... (1)

LWolenczak (10527) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177691)

I almost got suspended once for checking my email with pine in the school library during lunch one day. Next day, telnet was no longer installed.... damn them... that was annoying.

What was really annoying, was that they took telnet off the computer lab computers soon afterwards..... I ended up keeping a laptop in my book bag after that..... was better off.... could use ssh :)

BTW, their excuse was that somebody "hacked" their cisco, and caused it to stop working compleatly..... well... thats what they told the teachers (yes, some were pissed about telnet disappearing) (they really had the router sitting on top of a water heater, and it fried it....)

Re:Unsolicited email to teachers (2)

Moofie (22272) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177711)

OK, so you're saying that instead of having a class about "How to use the Internet approrpiately", we should just get the Secret Service to slap the kid with a felony rap. Holy disproportionate response, Batman!

Stupid teachers will take advantage of this (2)

Grokopen (35265) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177728)

This really sucks! A lot of the teachers when I was in high school / junior high, were really stupid and didn't understand computers.

I can see a lot of geeky kids who aren't popular with other students or their teachers getting punished ... maybe as bad as what Skylarov is dealing with ... for expressing themselves in a way that many of their dumb teachers don't understand.

Uh-oh (5)

bravehamster (44836) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177731)

Now it seems changing all the home pages on the libraries computers to wasn't such a great plan. Excuse me for a moment.

This is what happens when... (2)

alteridem (46954) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177732)

This is what happens when politicians who don't know anything about computers start drafting laws that concern computers. How can we expect someone who barely knows how to use email (and like opening email attachments ;o) draft a technical law? If we want things to change, we need to stop bitching about them on slashdot and contacting the people that represent us in government and make our views know. Don't bitch until you do something about it and that doesn't include posting here.

The meat of the Bill (4)

alteridem (46954) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177733)

The only real meat in the entire bill is the following vague paragraph;

knowingly causes the transmission of a program, information, code, or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally affects or impairs without authorization a computer of an elementary school or secondary school or institution of higher education;'.

This is so vague that doing anything on a school computer could be considered a crime. Back in school, when a CS assignment was due, the entire network would grind to a halt as everyone was compiling their assignments on the server. Now I could have everyone else charged for hindering my work!

My Thoughts... (2)

pirodude (54707) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177735)

I'm a highschool student, and because of that law I'd probably be sitting in jail..

More than one have I had to break school district policy to make our computers even WORK. One time in AP Computer Science none of the compilers would work. So I generated a fix for them and even gave it to the admin who was SUPER pissed at me. Ended up that they used it at our other highschool because it wasnt working there. He talked to the principal about me "disrupting network operations". Luckly the principal knows me and didn't pursue it further. That would be a Level 4 violation, 5 days questions asked.

Another time I used putty to login to my web server during homeroom (we werent doing anything) to both a) restart apache b) download a report for my next hour class. My advisor (total bitch) didn't understand anything I was doing and when she saw the black box popup she thought i was "hacking the grade server" and basically told me to get off before she reports me. I ignored her and again, I was reported. Luckly 5 minutes worth of explination to the principal got me out of it. This law would suck in the hands of people who dont know what they are doing. If my principal didnt trust me I'd probably be expelled by now, and that's breaking policy to HELP the school..damn lawmakers.

Re:My Thoughts... (2)

pirodude (54707) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177736)

1) our teacher was gone due to his wife having a baby, projects were due and this affected our ENTIRE class of 30 students, the admin didnt care at all about our network (he's such an ass that one time, he didn't change the toner in the printer in the lab till it printed only white sheets and the principal yelled at him..we submitted our printed out programs to the teacher and couldnt do it for several weeks)

2) the paper was due, i couldnt find it, it was either 1) take a 0 2) print it out..what would you choose?

Re:My Thoughts... (2)

pirodude (54707) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177737)

borland c++, botched upgrade on the novell server left all of the machines missing 1 critical file...i made a disk that you'd just reboot the computer with the disk in the would copy the needed files, reboot the system and it would be all set..really quite an easy fix :)

Another crappy bill from Toricelli... (2)

camusflage (65105) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177745)

Remember kids, this isn't the first time Toricelli has sponsored crappy net.regulation. You know that spam disclaimer that says "THIS IS NOT SPAM ACCORDING TO S.1615"? That was his doing, though thankfully, that one died in committee. Of course, getting tough on those hax0r kids couldn't be a ploy to shift attention away from investigations for ethics violations, could it? Naah. All politicians are forthright and complete in what they say about their actions (Gary Condit, for example).

at least it makes spam illegal! (2)

TMB (70166) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177748)

Hey, under this law anyone who spams someone at a computer account in a school will get 10 years jail time! I knew there had to be some redeeming feature to it... ;-)


Torricelli gets tough on crime (2)

scoove (71173) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177749)

It's always refreshing to see our elected officials so committed to fighting crime [] .

Obviously, some crimes [] are more important than others... god forbid we allow teens to hack their poorly run high school webserver and post a nasty comment about an unfavored teacher... that'd be criminal!

Now I'm just waiting for the "Condit Child Intern Protection Act of 2001" to get proposed...


Re:The snowball effect. (2)

scoove (71173) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177750)

Rimbo's got a good point. There's another "geek's revenge" happening which may correspond to a paranoid (but someone's still after you) perspective: post-colombine zero tolerance rules [] .

Oddly enough, while this overreaction (when measured against statistical data showing the actual decline of Colombine-type activities) presumes to prevent youth on youth violence, the actual legislation ends up being a target used to protect the state.

It's time to set aside the tired "Republicans vs. Democrats" misdirections and recognize that both sides are having great success at eliminating annoying liberties under the guise of protecting us.


Re:Unsolicited email to teachers (3)

scoove (71173) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177751)

Somewhere I heard a comment about how liberals have been outstanding in getting anti-gun laws on the books, leaving them unenforced and pointing to how the lack of statistical progress justifies even more laws. Someone asked what would happen if they suddenly decided to enforce all of the laws they snuck in over time.

Civil libertarians need to watch for the same effect happening elsewhere - as it apparently is with Torricelli pushing this case. If teachers are being threatened (both of my folks are teachers as was my wife - and yes, it does and has happened to them as well), there are existing laws that apply.

It's as if we have a con game going on between legislators making unchecked power grabs by claiming to enhance people's "safety", totally backed by the stupid electoral marks that readily give away their rights for a false prize.

I've gotten ISP accounts cancelled, but the person always seems to resurface thanks to netzero Yea, the bad guys sure can be tough to prosecute. But I'm not sure a police state makes things any better, not to mention the cost in sacrificed rights to get there.


Re:The meat of the Bill (1)

highschool-bert (81047) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177759)

Hell, this is scarier for those of us that are still in high school. Although I can't see any of my current teachers using this as a deterrent.

As I read over this again it looks like that by making any sort of mistake in a network programming class (we wrote IM clients in comp sci last year) one could get slammed by this ("well, you did type the code... that's intentional enough).

"Computer hackers who prey upon unsuspecting schools, striking fear in the hearts of entire communities with threats of violence, cannot go unpunished" is just fscking scary. This guy just makes a near-perfect satire of himself. That's what this really is, right? A joke? author takes refuge in his youthful innocence


Once More... (4)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177762)

Legislators take a heavy handed, idiotic and completely incorrect approach in trying to bring some order to the chaos of the net. The average Senator proposing IT legislation is rather like me attempting to perform cardiac bypass surgery. Unlike the average senator, I have the sense not to attempt the surgery.

Definitely Bad News (tm)! (1)

Redking (89329) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177763)

This legislation is coming from a New Jersey senator. I live in New Jersey and admit this is the state which invented DWB as a crime.

DWB = driving while black.


Re:Unsolicited email to teachers (2)

kindbud (90044) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177764)

Why should educators get special legislation protecting them from harassment via email?

Twice, emails with full headers in hand, I've gotten ISP accounts cancelled, but the person always seems to resurface thanks to netzero, juno, freei, etc, using a hotmail or yahoo email address.
So what will this proposed legislation do to prevent that from happening? Why is this any different than some other email harassment incident not involving an educator? (hint: nothing, and it isn't)

Torricelli comment page (5)

jwales (97533) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177770)

If you'd like to comment on this bill, you can use Senator Torricelli's website to comment [] .

Of course, this is the same Senator Torricelli who is being investigated for illegal donations to his campaign. One DOJ official called him the "most corrupt politician in America" [] . And that's with some tough competition, I'm sure!

What a delight this guy is.

What a fool! Affects != damages!!! (2)

browser_war_pow (100778) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177772)

If I send email spontaneously to my computer science professor asking him something that I forgot to ask in class, I could now be in violation of a federal statute?!?! It is legislation like this that makes me believe more than ever in Cicero's old saying "More laws, less justice."

Go to and email your congresscritters now, especially your senators. Threaten them that you will not vote for them, will campaign for other candidates, will donate to other causes and campaigns.... tell them their getting your vote and money is riding on this bill and that you are watching their every action regarding this bill like Big Brother!

strange.... (1)

jezmund (102188) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177774)

Torricelli said in a press release this week that he introduced the legislation after the Trenton (New Jersey) Times reported that a local school district had its home page defaced with what appeared to be a threat that referenced the 1999 Columbine massacre. Concerned parents reportedly kept their children home from school that day.

So how is this bill supposed to help? If the catch whoever did that there will certainly be severe repurcussions already (expulsion, counseling, etc...). It just seems to me that this law creates greater penalties, and a broader legal definitition of abuse. What's the point of that? Are they really going to give a 16 year old kid 10 years in jail because he defaces the school's web site? It seems to me his constituents got scared, and he drafted up something nasty-sounding to make them feel like "something is being done". I don't see this going through, though. It's just too vague.

Good thing this wasn't around in 1999 (2)

cperciva (102828) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177775)

If this bill was around a couple years ago this case [] might be rather more severe.

Folks, read the original law (1)

Orange Julius (104064) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177779)

Toricelli is tacking on a very small alteration to an existing law [] . While concerns raised at about the wordsmithing of the amendment are valid, the bill has only been referred to the Judiciary Committee, which means that it won't even get back to the Senate floor without a Consideration and Mark-up Session, during which (I would think), the bill will be re-written for clarity.

In addition, violation of this section of the amendment would NEVER result in a Secret Service investigation, even after the proposed modifications of subsection (c). The authority of the Secret Service is confined to violations of sections (a)(2)(A) and (a)(2)(B) of 18 USC 1830, NOT section (a)(8).

That's if it even gets that far, which is wishful thinking, at best.

What is it with politicians??? (2)

DESADE (104626) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177780)

It seems like they feel the need to justify thier jobs by writing new laws that protect us from ourselves. Here's and idea, I'll vote for a politician that will spen his time abolishing bad laws. We need fewer laws, not more.

"The more laws, the more corrupt the state."

Re:Unsolicited email to teachers (2)

aralin (107264) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177781)

Your snail mail address is known. You can get a hate letter by USPS, what is so different on electronic communication that it has to be specially punished and protected against?

How much of junk a day you throw in near by garbage can next to your mailbox? Just delete the mail, it won't kill you :)

i guess they just don't understand (2)

RestiffBard (110729) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177783)

that either the open source community will find a way around certain laws or that the cracker community will find ways through them why don't they jsut stop and ask us what they should do.
I'm thinking perhaps oreilly and the other gangs of conventioneers should start dragging senators (not congressmen their votes don't have the impact that a senators does, the stature) to OSS conventions and dmcs protests and the like and educate them. they won't learn otherwise.

and... (1)

Sarin (112173) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177784)

Nothing's new here. Every ten days someone's pulling this off in the senate or whatever you're calling your last straw of democracy in the U.S.A.. I'm feeling sad a nation is flowing into such a strict code and intelligent people know about it and there's not much you can do (please make a special forum or something for this). It's not deliberately law is turning into big brother but undelibarately due to strings of simple laws and simple people who make decissions who don't understand the big picture. Don't make my comment a flame but think about this. We can whine about this like allways and put the usual comments and get , but please oh please why don't we make a real forum for people who worry about these things and want to make a real difference, instead of making a little bit of slashdot karma on comments which are only screened by google and perhaps the infamous echelon bots. (yeah right!). If you have a good forum for it please post it.

Re:Computers don't belong in schools (1)

rprycem (113790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177787)

What country are you in? Living near Washington D.C. myself I do not know of a single adult I have ever meet that did not know how to read.

Re:Unsolicited email to teachers (1)

RFC959 (121594) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177793)

It's a simple one: Deter. ... It won't stop stuff from happening, but it will lessen it...
Making threats is already a crime, and hate mail may or may not be, depending on where you live. If those being illegal don't deter people, why will a new law? As for the plain old nuisance mail - well, it sucks, but I hope you're not suggesting that it should be illegal!

Where's the diff? (1)

possible (123857) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177796)

Let me first say, so many of these bills are structured in terms of patches to existing bills. I think the government should alwasy provide the output of 'diff -u -w' so everyone can review the patch in context before deciding whether to apply it to our Constitution.

Anyways, the bill seems meaningless in terms of adding additional protection for school computers. The biggest difference from the original bill [] is actually a change in language from:

"whoever...intentionally causes damage without authorization" [subsec. (a) paragraph (5.A)] and "whoever...recklessly causes damage" [subsec. (a) paragraph (5.B)] to:

"whoever...intentionally affects or impairs without authorization".

IANAL, but it seems to be there's a big difference between "causes damage" and "affects or impairs", considering ANYTHING one does to a computer affects the computer. And in a way, any program you run on a computer "impairs" the computer's ability to do other things (as quickly, say).

Network Security Tools and Services

Rapid 7, Inc. []

Re:once again... (2)

Rei (128717) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177797)

That doesn't violate the other part of the legislation, which says it must affect the computer of the person it is being sent to.

-= rei =-

Re:once again... (2)

Rei (128717) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177798)

I feel I ought to point out that this person is not representative of Democrats in general, who generally tend to stand for the beliefs of the ACLU [] and individual rights. He will not have his party's support. He may, however, garnish some support from the other side. -= rei =-

Re:dude. (2)

Rei (128717) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177799)

"The goal of any republican or democrat".

That's rather naive, and quite a generalization.

-= rei =-

Re:This is what happens when... (5)

Rei (128717) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177808)

You'd actually be surprised how much of a difference writing can make; I'd know, my uncle was in the House. There are a few keys.

1. Don't use email. Emails aren't trusted in congress even by the most tech-savvy representatives. Use snail mail (c'mon, its not too hard!). Email is just generally compiled into statistics, which aren't trusted very much themselves.

2. The more personal, the better. The best thing you can do is meet in person with them (and you'd be surprised, they almost always do their best to accomodate their public, though they have incredibly busy schedules). A phone call is probably next best, followed closely by a hand-written letter. A typed letter is still good, though. All of the aforementioned methods of communication will almost certainly be dealing directly with your representative, not a secretary unless they are very busy. Representatives like to stay in touch with their constituency.

3. The less people care about the issue (especially the representative in question), the more of an effect you'll have.

-= rei =-

Sent message to Senator Leahy (1)

bildstorm (129924) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177809)

This a copy of what I sent to the Senate Judiciary Chairman.

Dear Senator Leahy,

I do hope, as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that you can get S.1252 "School Website Protection Act of 2001" stricken from even being taken to the floor of the Senate.

As you can see from the article in Wired (,1283,45752,0 0.html), the wording of legislation uses the word "affects" rather than "damages". Simply sending an unsolicited e-mail to a teacher (as in teh teacher didn't request the e-mail) whether pertinent to school activities or not, could be considered a federal crime under this legislation. This is a draconian wording. This would also mean that if I, a private citizen, wondered why a school website was so slow and sent out a simple "ping" packet to determine the speed (ping being a common tool used by system administrators and maintainers of websites, which I am), getting the computer to send a response would be affecting the machine.

On the worst level, even sending a http request (a request to view a web page) would be potentially criminal under this legislation. There is no point in protecting a website if it is suddenly illegal to view it.

Adding entries to weblogs also is affecting it.

Far too draconiam (2)

bildstorm (129924) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177810)

As you said "It won't stop stuff from happening, but it will lessen it..", but shooting people when they jaywalk would lessen that too far.

The intent is not the problem, but the looseness of the wording is. That's like saying I can use "suitable force" to keep robbers away, but not specifying. Maybe I think land mines in my yard are suitable force. Without definition, we cannot determine right or wrong or draw the line for a logical argument.

Used to happen with telephones (3)

bildstorm (129924) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177812)

People used to do this via telephone before. Unfortunately it is a standard part of being an educateor at a public school.

Once kids realised the joy of *69 or *53 to return calls or traced them, they tended to stop with the calls. As more students are nailed for doing stupid stuff with computers, then this too will slow.

One recommendation, like everything else. If you deal with lots of people, have a public account and a private account. That way when you want family e-mail, you don't have to dig through as much spam.

Good thing this isn't pre-96 or I'd be in jail. (1)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177814)

Geez, don't they realize that part of the learning experience is messing stuff up?

I was one who the teacher's trusted on the computers and even had me set things up but there were other students who were out to cause havoc just to see if they could do it.

Even I messed up from time to time. I bet playing doom after hours would be considered "disrupting the network." We were just having fun!!

Not hurting a thing.

Re:Unsolicited email to teachers (2)

Rimbo (139781) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177819)

So teachers get the same amount of spam and hate-mail the rest of us get.

So? Why destroy our educational system over that?

The snowball effect. (3)

Rimbo (139781) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177821)

The "Geek's Revenge" -- being vastly more successful than the bullies who used to beat the geeks up in 7th grade gym class -- is about to be avenged upon by the lawyers and politicians. They never liked the brains or the bullies. It was easy to send the bullies to jail, but now they're waging war against us.

Okay, that's a bit on the paranoid side, but realistically now that they know they can push us around, having already passed and enforced the DMCA, what'll stop them from passing this law? It reminds me of a quote from the last year's political election. A pollster for one of the two big parties mentioned that he'd discovered that women universally respond positively to the phrase, "For the children," regardless of context. This law's already signed, sealed, and delivered. Forget free speech, forget rights, get ready to be ass-rammed by some guy named Guido for the next ten years.

And usually, by the time a law like this is even announced, the decisions have already mostly been made. "Write your Congressman!" is a naive call to action. What we need are pre-emptive measures to heavily favor our cause. What we should be sponsoring is not ex post facto protests and lawsuits, but making sure that geek-friendly laws are made from the beginning.

The EFF is doing great work, but what we really need is not a legal organization, but a lobbying organization.

Isn't it already illegal? (1)

HerrGlock (141750) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177823)

To 'knowingly disrupt computer network' traffic or similar if it's not your own network?

Why do they make laws for acts that already are illegal?

Breaking and entering works for computers too.

Cav Pilot's Reference Page []

Stupid lawmakers! (2) (142825) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177824)

Some lawmakers are stupid. I testified before the Texas Senate on a bill to require censorware [] be provided with each computer sold in Texas. Texas already has a law that requires ISPs to have links to censorware. The author of the bill introduced this because he received porn spam on his AOL account. He said that it was to difficult to download the censorware over the internet for anybody over 30. He also claimed that it cost only $1 or $2 for a manufacturer to provide censorware with each computer.

So stupid, it can't even pass. (2)

startled (144833) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177825)

This law will never go anywhere. Most politicians aren't as stupid as the guy who wrote this bill, and you'll find that out in a hurry-- it won't even get any floor time. Have you seen what it translates to? Here goes:

"Whoever knowingly causes the transmission of a program, information, code, or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally affects or impairs without authorization a computer of an elementary school or secondary school or institution of higher education; [shall be punished by] ) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than..."

It goes on for a bit, title 18 section 1030 is available at ml. Basically, this law means that if you send an unauthorized e-mail that passes through a school system, you could get 1-10 years (5 years for spammers-- hmm, that's actually kind of neat!). The author of this bill could get 1 year just for writing to thank a school for supporting his bill.

It's pretty obvious that this bill wouldn't stand up to the simplest constitutional challenge. It's also pretty obvious that it'll never see the light of day-- even the worst bills that get passed make more sense than this. What's possible is that this will get amended to not be so mind-numbingly stupid, and will say something like "threatens or harasses", although a lot of that is already in 1030.

So, can we learn anything useful from this debacle? Only one thing: Bob Toricelli is duller than a bag of hammers.

Yep (3)

Once&FutureRocketman (148585) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177827)

It's the George Orwell Principle: Pass so many laws that everyone, everywhere is a lawbreaker no matter what they do. Then you can arrest whoever you want to when it is convenient to do so.

(OK, I don't know if he was the one who said this first, but I first encountered this notion, stated more or less this way, in 1984.)

Excuse me? (4)

ivan37 (149147) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177828)

Hack a corporation's computer with e-commerce credit card information: 5 years in jail
Hack a school's website with a weekly calendar: 10 years in jail
Look on the 16 year-old's face when the Secret Service are knocking on the door: Priceless

k12 computer use waiver, anyone? (3)

demo9orgon (156675) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177835)

The more I have to deal with the assholes at the k12 level, the more I look forward to having to deal with my kids getting suspension for doing common things which are beyond the teachers/staff to understand.

I'd like to see school districts come up with a wavier to keep my kids off their precious computers. I'd sign it in a heartbeat. So should any other person who understands the k12 computer situation.

I want my kids to be something more than monkeys pushing buttons (yep, k12 level computing is exactly that, or your kid's suspended). I'd rather have them playing music, doing art, or learning how to do math.

I have a multi-node network at home with all sorts of boxen for them to play/learn on. WTF does any kid in k12 need a computer for anyway? Teachers don't understand them. Computers are wasted in the classroom. We would all be better off if computers were there for just the memo-fetishists and poledit-fetishists to enjoy.

Re:Definitely Bad News (tm)! (1)

b0r1s (170449) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177844)

I live in New Jersey and admit this is the state which invented DWB as a crime

I dont know about that.... I live in southern california, and frequent some shitty neighborhoods (heh, Lincoln and Washington in Pasadena, horrible area, I'm convinced I'm the only white person who's ever been to the vons near there) and I'm pretty sure there's been people complaining about police stops for DWB for years. I'm sure it's a problem where you are, but it's a problem everywhere....

I, for one, appreciate the sentiments behind the law. It's a step in the right direction to help teachers who take too much abuse. I'm wary of the wording, but maybe precedents will be laid down to protect some of the more ridiculous abuses of the law.

Unsolicited email to teachers (4)

b0r1s (170449) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177845)

Being a son of two high school teachers, I have to appreciate this clause in the law. Numerous times in the past year, one or both of my teachers has received either blatant threats, hate mail, or nuisance emails to their personal email accounts, after giving them out as a way to encourage kids to ask for help when stuck on homework. Sometimes, it's been pretty easy to trace back (ie: people using their ISP email accounts), occasionally I've gone through the headers to figure out the originating IP, and then contacted the ISP to find the offender. It typically isnt hard to outsmart a high school student.

The end result, though, is depressing. Teachers trying to help decent, hardworking students by offering their email addresses are harassed viciously, and are offered no more defense than any person against everyday SPAM, unless there is a blatant threat.

Twice, emails with full headers in hand, I've gotten ISP accounts cancelled, but the person always seems to resurface thanks to netzero, juno, freei, etc, using a hotmail or yahoo email address. Police can/will/should do nothing unless there is a threat of harm, but it's a shame. I hope this law becomes widespread, well known, and strengthened by numerous precedents to the point that this kind of abuse declines substantially. Educators should not need to take the abuse they are often faced with. These kind of acts, hopefully, will keep the educators who truly care (they're the ones releasing their email addresses in the first places, right?) from taking abuse from students who dont, so that they can concentrate on teaching the students who want to make the best of the sad situation that is our public school system.

Tell me if this sounds impossible... (1)

Lostman (172654) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177847)

... knowingly causes the transmission of a program, information, code, or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally affects or impairs without authorization a computer of an elementary school or secondary school or institution of higher education

Some random person who has a website has a blind redirection to /con/con. The ONLY reason someone would do that is to affect the persons computer who clicked it. A student just happens to go to that website (without knowing what would happen) and it locks up the computer/server/etc.

Random person who owns said website is brought up on charges...

This is NOT good. Heck, using up bandwidth might be considered a use of a computer that could affect a network. With a little cajoling someone might see fit to bring up owners of pr0n websites up on charges for deliberatly wasting the schools bandwidth, thus impairing the network.

I understand that there is a need to protect school computers... but (as stated in the article) -- this is not the way to do it.

Thank god (1)

SnapperHead (178050) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177849)

I no longer go to school. I would have been in some serious shit then. My teacher found it amazing what I could do. They called me down to secure there systems. If something broke, who did they call :)

People wonder why the world is falling apart. Look at what these schools are pulling. So, maybe a law like this isn't the schools fault. But, they will inforce it to the stupied level. Think about it, a kid takes a butter knife to school to cut his sandwhich (or whatever). What happens, the kids kicked out of school and brought up on criminal charges. 5 year old kisses a class mate and is brought up on sexual harasment changes. Man, this shit makes my blood boil.

Ok, so I ranted a little off course. Still, 10 years ?! These are fscking kids where talking about. If a 10 year old starts playing around a little, gets caught. By the time his out of jail, WTF is there on the outside for him ?? Nothing, he will them become a carier criminal.

until (succeed) try { again(); }

Re:Definitely Bad News (tm)! (1)

danheskett (178529) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177852)

That is so messed up man!

You are asking for the Judical system to basically create a new law. In your eyes, therei s the law as written, and then you want the law as interpreted and enforced. They are all supposed to be the same thing!

Executive = Enforce
Congressional = Create, Repeal, Modify
Judical = Interpret, Strike Down

But now, instead of correctly drafting in the first place, you want to rely on the Judical branch to curb enforcement and basically rewrite the law? Scary!

Torricelli is a BUM! (2)

jmoloug1 (178962) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177854)

Read up on his problems with fund raising irregularities. [] His bill is clearly pandering to the media for some headlines. One has to think about the disproportionate sentencing for a "cyber crime" when compared with things like illegal guns. Why is harrassment/vandalism/etc. a federal priority? Has this really become so widespread that a federal law is required? It reminds me of the supposed need for a flag burning amendment because of all those rampant flag burners running through the streets.

Re:Unsolicited email to teachers (2)

jmoloug1 (178962) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177855)

Being a son of two high school teachers, I have to appreciate this clause in the law. Numerous times in the past year, one or both of my teachers has received either blatant threats, hate mail, or nuisance emails to their personal email accounts, after giving them out as a way to encourage kids to ask for help when stuck on homework. Police can/will/should do nothing unless there is a threat of harm, but it's a shame. I hope this law becomes widespread, well known, and strengthened by numerous precedents to the point that this kind of abuse declines substantially. Educators should not need to take the abuse they are often faced with. Why don't teachers set up a separate email account dedicated to homework issues? That way they can isolate their personal account from this sort of thing. Why is overly broad legislation necessary when much simpler, straight-forward measures will suffice? Further, if they are mostly just kids being stupid, then how is it different form the everyday world of teachers? What makes electronic communication deserving of any more regulation than other forms of communication? I just can't be convinced it's really necessary for the federal government to investigate these petty offenses with the Secret Service. If a real threat were to be sent, then the authorities can already act on it without any new laws or new powers.

You know... (1)

cnkeller (181482) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177858)

This may sound like a troll, but whatever happend to government by the people?

I don't remember voting for the DMCA. Hell, I don't even remember voting against it. My own recourse is to not vote for my state senators that voted the damn thing into law...

*Ack* I'd be guilty (2)

CritterNYC (190163) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177867)

When I was in Junior High, I once set all the Apple IIes in the room to say "press any key" and then beep continuously if someone did. I knew the teacher (my friend's dad) would get a, um, kick out of it.

Publicity (1)

1alpha7 (192745) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177869)

this bill was written to generate publicity

Like the article says, The Senator is just trying to get some press. He has no intention of getting the bill passed; it's blatantly unconstitutional anyway.


Who votes for these idiots .... (2)

darrylg (202946) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177876)

... isn't the right question.

The question is who votes against them. If your answer is "duh, not me ...", give yourself a kick for all of us, please.

Time to implement a zero tolerance policy for political idiocy, I think. Write letters to the editors of the mainstream press, the idiot's political opponents (whoever ran against them last election will do, they'll probably pass it on to the upcoming opponent), and if you feel really inspired, the idiot's prominent constituents, like the mayor and city councillors of the idiot's base city, major fund contributors, etc. This will cost you a couple hours' work and a couple dollars' stamps.

Or say "duh, I couldn't be bothered ..." and give yourself another kick. Harder, this time, please.


School Systems (2)

ROBOKATZ (211768) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177880)

I got in a lot of trouble in high school because somebody else found a, uh, "creative" use for a program I had written.

In any event I after that I rarely touched a computer at school, and I recommend all high school students do likewise to avoid trouble.

Have hope, however, the University environment is far better in that the sysadmins, professors, etc. will treat you as adults but generally expect tom-foolery from the student population, so they don't overreact if someone does something they don't like. Also, and this is a big one, they generally know what the fuck they're doing.

Don't get too upset (1)

owenPS (215051) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177882)

This is why we have a group (congress) making decisions. The bill is just a proposal by one man who obviously does not understand, and there is no way that it will get through and become a law

once again... (2)

Pravada (217899) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177888)

...slashdot misrepresents an article. The complaint about email was due to the vague wording of the legislation, that "unsolicited" email could be a crime.
While I hope to god this bill dies soon, the editors owe their readers more than just yellow journalism and fearmongering.

Re:Unsolicited email to teachers (2)

MWoody (222806) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177891)

You've rather neatly argued against this law. Death threats via e-mail are already illegal, as are any personal threats of mortal harm through any medium. You can, could, and should call the police any time a teacher, or indeed any individual feels his or her life seriously threatened by a communication.

And with anything short of the aforementioned death threat, why bring the cops into it at all? A school is supposed to be a self-governing body for individuals who are learning how to get along in a society with greater protections and less harsh penalties than the "real world". No teenager surreptitiously installing quake on a library computer or firing an angry e-mail off to an a$$hole teacher needs to be put in jail; that just turns a normal kid into a criminal. Should school bullies, who not only threaten but often cause damage to other kids, be dealt with by the local authorities before the administration? I really hope the answer is, and remains, no.

Finally, not to sound harsh or anything, but a teacher who get overly depressed by several delinquent students with anonymous mailers needs a new line of work. Schools are an early cross-section of society, and let's face it, there are a LOT of jerks out there. That's one fact that ain't gonna change any time soon.

Y'know... (4)

MWoody (222806) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177892)

I can't count the number of times recently that I've heard myself mutter, "If that was illegal when I was a kid, I'd be in jail now..." Are we aiming for our entire @#$@# nation to spend at least some time in the slammer, or what?

Torricelli's just trying to fill up the jails (2)

JohnTheFisherman (225485) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177893) they won't have any room for him. ;)

Stupid BIlls (1)

sourcehunter (233036) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177896)

"It's a stupid bill. "

I think we'd all agree that the DMCA is/was a stupid bill too... but it passed AND put Dmitry in jail.

Re:Stupid BIlls (1)

sourcehunter (233036) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177897)

It might have passed but that does not mean it will last.

Yes, but how many Dmitry's will we have with THIS bill OR DMCA before they are overturned by the courts or repealed.
Courts take time.
Legislation takes even longer

heh (3)

Dr. Awktagon (233360) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177899)

This would've made my high-school Apple basic program a crime, eh?

20 X = INT(24*RND(1))+1
40 PRINT "__________PLEASE ADJUST VERTICAL HOLD__________"
50 GOTO 10

Ah it was such pleasure watching from a distance as the librarian tried to get the image to stabilize...and gosh how did the computer know???

So I will join the chorus and say "Thank goodness I'm out of school, because I would probably be in jail now!" (Not for that BASIC program particularly. But then again who knows? Having to adjust the monitor caused the librarian all sorts of harm and damages and theft of intellectual property and loss of wages).

Re:School Systems (5)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177906)

I would agree with that statement about Universitys but I was thrown off the main shell server because I compiled nmap. Aparently that means that I was trying to "hack" even though I just really wanted to see what ports were open on the server that i use. People are stupid at all levels. This is including me for thinking it would be alright.

The Lottery:

Bad idea! Bad! (2)

BarefootClown (267581) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177921)

As a recent high school graduate myself, I hear about laws like this and start quivering uncontrollably. This sort of sweeping regulation will do little, if anything, to stop the actual problem; even worse, though, it will make nearly any use of a computer a criminal action, to be dealt with at the discretion of the school.

Consider the following:

  • Spamming is illegal.
  • Making threats of bodily harm to another person is illegal.
  • Damaging, compromising, or otherwise interfering with the functionality of a computer network is illegal.

If these are already illegal, why do we need another law to criminalize them? If it is illegal to vandalize somebody's property, do we really need a separate law to cover mailbox bashing? Of course not--it was already covered by the vandalization law! So, if these acts are already illegal, how will passing another, totally redundant, law help the situation? "Oh!" "I didn't realize I that the laws already on the books meant I can't do that! Now that they've passed another law, I understand! I shall stop immediately!" Get serious. This law won't help anything.

To make matters worse, a law of this type will (not might, will) be used improperly against students. It's not a question of if, just a question of when. By using the language "affects . . .a computer" (editing for emphasis and clarity), any use of a computer is criminalized. defines the word "affect" to mean "[t]o have an influence on or effect a change in." Now, last I checked, the Big Red Switch will cause a change in sthe state of a computer--do we really want to send our kids to a Federal Pound-me-in-the-Ass prison for turning on a computer? Sound outlandish? Maybe, but the language of the law makes it a possibility.

But of course, no teacher or school administrator would ever dream of taking advantage of a legal technicality to punish a student, right? Bah. I was frequently on the wrong end of my high school's computer policy, usually through no fault of my own (admittedly, sometimes I deserved it, but most of the time, no). Certain administrators would have used anthing they could have found to get me booted from the school. Many of the teachers would have supported me, but just as many would not have. Consider the average public-school teacher: overworked, underpaid, and resents the responsibility placed upon him by society, and society's lawyers. By and large, they want to stand up, give their lectures to a bunch of quiet, attentive students, then go back to their desks and have the students do their busywork. (Exceptions to this stereotype do exist, and I had some of them. Among the best teachers, and the best people, I have ever had the privilege of knowing--one of them was just awarded a national award for excellence in teaching. But I digress.) These teachers are annoyed by problem childred at both ends of the intellectual spectrum--at one end, the mindless, disruptive, "dropout" group, and at the other end, the intelligent, occasionally brilliant, disruptive ones. I was one of the latter (please excuse my lack of humility). In physics class, I would work out problems in my head more quickly than the teacher could on a calculator. Many of you (Slashdotters) are probably familiar with this feeling. Teachers , at least the "bad" ones, resent such students, and generally make their lives difficult in some way or another--I know they did for me. Now, consider the group of people most likely to be taking full advantage of the capabilities of the network. You'll find that they are approximately the same group. Now, even if the kids don't do anything wrong in the current sense of the word (damage/UCE/otherwise impair functionality), by even logging in, they're breaking the law. Let a teacher, who frequently understands computers almost as well as a Congresscritter, overhear him talking about Linux, or writing his own program, or using bash (/bin/bash), and all they'll hear is "hacker" ("cracker," to us). Particularly bash--they won't hear an acronym for Bourne Again SHell, they'll hear a term for destruction often applied to mailboxes. Put this perception in their minds, associate it with a student they already dislike, and you have a student who is automatically distrusted and prone to being accused of illicit computer use. Make everything criminal, and, well, you do the math. (Hint: don't ask my sophomore math teacher for help--my classmates and I had to correct half of everything she said.)

The point of this little rant is that a law like this will do no good, and that it will be used as a tool of retribution by resentful teachers toward any student who doesn't kiss ass like he's supposed to. Demonstrate proficiency on your English test, and you get an A. Demonstrate a little independence of thought and spirit, and you get five-to-ten.

"Make it ten--I am only a poor corrupt official."

Re:its nuts.... (1)

TeraCo (410407) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177940)

I disagree, in certain fields, working at your desk and suddenly telnetting into an 'unknown' host is enough to get you investigated and fired.

Welcome to the real world.

Re:My Thoughts... (1)

zachlipton (448206) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177946)

As a student, I must disagree with you completely. Many a time have I done homework assignments, only to find that I couldn't print them at home (classic lack of black ink error), or needed them at school early. This is why I run ftpd and afpd on my computer. My teachers have a general rule of: if you can't get your homework in, make every damm effort. If you can't print it, email it in; if you can't email it (and that's what the assignment was); print it and bring it in. Just because the school network isn't working properly doesn't mean that you are free from all obligation to do work. Can you imagine schools sending students home because the ISP disconnected them by mistake? Laws are important, but this is something that the school should be able to work out with their standard procedures. Zach

Computers don't belong in schools (2)

The Ultimate Badass (450974) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177948)

Computers are of secondary educational importance. Computer literacy is a non-essential skill. It is becoming less important as computer become more usable. Computer education is dehumanizing at a period in a child's life where human experience is vital to development. I've spoken to various teachers in elementary schools about this, and not one of them values computing as a learning resource.

In a nation which struggles to achieve 50% literacy, isn't it a bit absurd to pursue computer literacy. Most Americans refuse to read books. Computer education is merely part of the process that encourages this "wilful illiteracy". Computers also teach students to disregard mathematical education. "Why learn to add? The computer can do it for me!"

The growing focus on computer learning is, to me, a symptom of the "children are adults in training" attitude. This warps children's developmental years, and is mostly the product of people who dislike children. People who spend time with children know that children need to act like children, not like adults. Children who spend too much time on computers often grow to be withdrawn and isolated, often preferring computer games over the company of friends. Other children strongly resist being forced to use computers, and react rebelliously, often violently.

Computers are not a part of a healthy childhood. As a computer scientist, I have seen nothing to indicate that people who were exposed to computers early in life gain any advantage over those who are introduced to them in the workplace or university. Often, long time users are at a disadvantage due to an unwillingness to learn new things about the machine.

Computers in schools reinforce an attitude that everything in life is preparation for something else. This is not healthy, and these are not the sort of values we should be imparting to our children.


jabbadeznuts (451155) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177949)

What an absoutely stypid idiea. Communication is the schools is key to the sucess of a student in any school and this bill practly blocks student-teacher communication.

Re:once again... (1)

jeffy124 (453342) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177950)

If you're a teacher in a class I'm in and I send you an email asking for clarification on something in class today, isn't that an unsolicted email on the part of you?

Re:Unsolicited email to teachers (1)

jeffy124 (453342) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177951)

Numerous times in the past year, one or both of my teachers has received either blatant threats, hate mail, or nuisance emails to their personal email accounts

You are in a unique position to actually see the good a law like this is capable of. Incidents like the ones you describe are the type of things Toricelli is aiming to punish for. Shenanagans like that are already taking place, someone from I think Florida was arrested for sending a threatening email to a student from a high school that was victimized by a high-profile shooting.

Re:My Thoughts... (1)

jeffy124 (453342) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177952)

We've all the heard the story about that college student who was kicked out of his school's library for using pine.

In your case, the princpal knows you as an honest honer student (let's hope), so the principal would be able to argue back to the teacher (or whoever wrote you up) in your defense.

But as for building gcc, if you were to modify the actual installation, that could be a problem. It sounds like that SA shouldn't be working in a high school environment, but rather as the SA for a HR dept, where no one knows squat about computers.

Re:My Thoughts... (1)

jeffy124 (453342) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177953)

OT: I love replying to myself :)

Besides, you would be able to tell a judge exactly what you were doing, while all the teacher could say "he's hacking his grades." Being able to take an AP CS class requires good grades to begin with, so why would someone want to make A's into something else?

Re:Sent message to Senator Leahy (1)

jeffy124 (453342) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177954)

Why Leahy? Toricelli's the one who proposed this crap.

Give it time (2)

jeffy124 (453342) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177955)

Today's politicians, judges, lawyers, etc. all grew up and went through a large part of their lives w/o computers, hence some laws, like this one, overstep the bounds of their intentions. Whereas today's college Law student (at least those at the good Ivy League law schools (sorry, I go to school down the sreet from UPenn)) have computers of their own, and hence the better chances of understanding how they work, as assuradly there will a CS/Law double major, or at least law students with high interest in computing, computer law, and intellectual property issues. As time moves forward, more judges/politicians/etc will retire and such, and more computer-savvy politicians will take their place. Only then will sensible laws regarding and regulating the world of computers will come about.

Re:Unsolicited email to teachers (2)

jeffy124 (453342) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177956)

So what will this proposed legislation do to prevent that from happening?

It's a simple one: Deter. It's designed as a deterrent to people who are thinking about doing this. Just like high school's teach sex ed to make students aware of what can happen, with the end purpose of avoiding teen pregnancy, laws like this are intended to establish "the line" between what's right and wrong. It won't stop stuff from happening, but it will lessen it, as seen by rates in teen pregnancy going down in recent years.

Re:once again... (2)

jeffy124 (453342) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177957)

Vast majority of teachers use POP3 or IMAP w/ a cache. Those teachers have to download the email message to his machine, meaning that the email "affected" the machine by having the email placed on it. So is the mail server, as we see below:

Other teachers leave the email on the mail server itself, where they can telnet to it and run pine or something (web interface, etc). But in this case, the mail server was "affected" by having the email put there for the teacher to receive. The teacher's computer is still "affected" because the bytes generated by the display of the email in the telnet window still have to be sent from the server to the teacher's telnet window.

Sigh (1)

agusus (470745) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177975)

When will they stop?? Our government just seems to be so completely ignorant of techology. Part of the problem is that the older generation that current politicians make up is fearful of technology. And they also fear what the younger, more computer savvy generation can do because they don't understand it.
Senator Torricelli probably thinks that this is a way to stop hackers before they even develop their skills. But this is stupid, kids don't become malicious hackers at school and so what if they bring down the network? It happens all the time at most schools because no one competent is admin'ing it.
And in my H.S., most of us used to bypass the computer's security system all the time in order to play games. It was something silly like pressing Cntl-C to get into DOS. Plus, there was even a loophole that allowed me to read other people's files and write to their directories (though I didn't take advantage of any of it, honest :) ).
Ok, so yes, if a kid intentionally does something harmful, then he/she should be punished. But not with time in federal prison! Leave the discipline decisions to the individual schools.

Hmmmm.... (1)

SpiderJ (471622) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177977)

I'm a Criminal Justice major at my school and am also a ROTC cadet. Being in my junior year, I've got a year or so before my senior thesis needs to get started on. So this article leaves me with a few questions. They are: 1. Will my professor actually be aware of this law? 2. If the professor actually does, how much trouble will I get in for e-mailing him or her a thesis which supports free speech? 3. Who has dibs on my ass, the military or the state?

Re:Stupid BIlls (1)

Lunastorm (471804) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177978)

It might have passed but that does not mean it will last.

Re:and... (1)

Lunastorm (471804) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177979)

I think this is also why people need to vote so nimrods likeT orricelli won't be elected.

Re:Computers don't belong in schools (1)

humblecoder (472099) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177981)

Computer education is merely part of the process that encourages this "wilful illiteracy".

I may be mistaken, but isn't being able to read a pre-requisite to using a computer?

Computers also teach students to disregard mathematical education.

Actually, classes in computer programming go hand in hand with mathematics. Both subjects develop problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Re:Unsolicited email to teachers (2)

humblecoder (472099) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177982)

There are already laws on the books dealing with harassment, electronic or otherwise. If a teacher is receiving "blatant threats", then the authorities can and will step in. We don't need another law on the books for this - particular one that can be so easily abused by the authorities. Also, is it me, or does 10 years in Federal prison sound like a lot for defacing a school's home page? I mean, there are murderers/rapists/child abusers who get less than that. When I was in high school, I pulled a little prank involving one of the school's computers. I was caught and I got a bunch of detentions, I was banned from the computer room for a month, and I learned my lesson. I never pulled any more stupid stunts after that. If this law was around when I was in school, I'd be just getting out of prison about now. Talk about using a machine gun to kill a fly. Whatever happened to common sense???

school computer labs/networks (1)

scubasteve (472392) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177984)

Reasons not to take a computer class in high school:
1. Computer use policies (ours, anyways) makes it to where if ANYTHING happens to the computer your assigned to, whether you did it or not, your responsible. Think about all the shit a student could fuck up and you get the blame.
2. Most teachers of these classes are grossly underqualified. I took a class that was MCSE training, and we did stupid office documents all year. Our teacher didn't have the slightest clue.
3. Why waste time with an idiot teacher and computer illeterate administration when you can take a psychology class or something.

dude. (1)

unitrcn (472455) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177985)

Half the shit congress passes is unconstitutional. Remember how anything not specifically given to the feds in the constitution belongs to the states?

The goal of any republican or democrat is to gain more political power for themselves. That's what fuels bills like these, not any real concern over "hacking." He'll appear proactive, and tough on crime to his constituents, and when they reelect him maybe he'll get an important seat in an important committee. (2)

unitrcn (472455) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177989)

might interest you.

too much.... (1)

psychic()mailman (472779) | more than 12 years ago | (#2177990)

When i was a kiddlywink.... i was banned by my school for 1 year from touching any computers for breaking in and stealing games from our BBC micro lab. Had the school not had the authority to discipline me internally, i would not have continued on to become the fine upstanding IT professional i am today. I'm no digital mother teresa, but it tought me a thing or two about network ettiquite. If i'd gone to jail, you'd all be paying for my supper. word of advice from an old pro. if you do get busted and banned... (and if you're on the threshold of puberty), i highly reccomend focusing all that cracking testosterone onto one of the most uncrackable systems of all time. The human female! pm.
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