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Blogger Fined €3,000 for 'Publicizing' Files Found Through Google Search

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the you-crafty-hackers-and-your-keyword-searches dept.

Your Rights Online 248

mpicpp points out an article detailing the case of French blogger Olivier Laurelli, who had the misfortune to click links from search results. Laurelli stumbled upon a public link leading to documents from the French National Agency for Food Safety, Environment, and Labor. He downloaded them — over 7 Gb worth — and looked through them, eventually publishing a few slides to his website. When one of France's intelligence agencies found out, they took Laurelli into custody and indicted him, referring to him as a 'hacker.' In their own investigation, they said, "we then found that it was sufficient to have the full URL to access to the resource on the extranet in order to bypass the authentication rules on this server." The first court acquitted Laurelli of the charges against him. An appeals court affirmed part of the decision, but convicted him of "theft of documents and fraudulent retention of information." He was fined €3,000 (about $4,000).

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248 comments

Hacker??!! (5, Insightful)

bogidu (300637) | about 6 months ago | (#46224577)

You fsckup your own security then blame the guy for accessing and republishing something you posted for the world to see?! Stupid bureaucrats.

Re:Hacker??!! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46224813)

French law and government is just simply fucked. There really isn't a better word to describe it.

They try to legislate all kinds of stupidity and it nearly always backfires on them. Just take a look at all the laws they've passed to improve employment in their country. Laws that fine employers for layoffs (guess how that turned out? Hint: all sane companies just laid off a bunch of people before the law came into effect and have less desire to hire anyone else), price fixing of books in a futile attempt to save bookstores, taxing the shit out of any company in an effort to fund a spendthrift government, it goes on and on.

http://globaleconomicanalysis.... [blogspot.ca]

The constant meddling has driven so many companies from their country, it just puts them in the hole even further. Speak out against any of the stupidity and rather than attempting to smarten up, they'll try to fine you. What a disaster. It's no surprise they came up with this dreadful verdict.

Re:Hacker??!! (0, Flamebait)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46225867)

It's fundamental to all of Europe, and a huge freaking problem. Look at Amanda Knox – interrogated without a lawyer, tried twice for the same crime, and convicted without being present in court. Thank goodness we have the Bill of Rights! Those founders really thinking something good two hundred years ago.

Re:Hacker??!! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46224895)

What the fuck is it with autistic geeks, seriously?

Technology is not the law. Technology is not social protocol.

Just because you CAN do something, it doesn't mean it's okay to do it. This creates a horrible survival-of-the-fittest arms race techno-bureaucracy where values are absent.

In particular, if the door is unlocked, that doesn't mean you can walk into the building and take photocopies of everything you find there, then publish the documents.

Although, unless I'm misunderstanding, the French appear to allow convictions on appeal, and to have recently reduced the number of jurors by 3 in all jury proceedings "to save costs". These are IMHO serious problems with the French judicial system.

Re:Hacker??!! (5, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 6 months ago | (#46224969)

Hey!

The world wide web was designed to make accessible via hyperlinks (URLs) a whole bunch of documents / generated content. Key word being accessible. If someone is stupid enough to put documents intended not to be public on the public world wide web, that's their issue.

It is not a transgression on the part of the person who used the URL to access the content, doing nothing more than the technology is explicitly designed to do.

This is just another example of judges who got an A in social studies and a C in technical subjects making asinine rulings about use of technology they don't understand.

Re:Hacker??!! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225063)

The world wide web was designed to make accessible via hyperlinks (URLs) a whole bunch of documents / generated content. Key word being accessible.

HTML was designed as a hypertext markup language, and the web evolved around it. It wasn't designed for everybody to be able to access every document, and it certainly wasn't designed for everybody to be able to republish every document. Even if it was, that doesn't mean it has to be used that way.

If someone is stupid enough to put documents intended not to be public on the public world wide web, that's their issue.

Even if somebody is stupid, they don't lose the protection of the law. Again, this isn't some weird fascistic "might is right" country.

It is not a transgression on the part of the person who used the URL to access the content, doing nothing more than the technology is explicitly designed to do.

Repeat of incorrect origin; repeat of origin fallacy.

This is just another example of judges who got an A in social studies and a C in technical subjects making asinine rulings about use of technology they don't understand.

Well, as someone with an LLB (England+Wales), an MSc in mathematics, and a computing bachelors, I'm fairly sure I understand the difference between technology and the law. And I bet the judge you're prejudging does too. There are a lot of judges with a biased axe to grind, and a few who are outright corrupt, but not many at all are dumb - this is something the activist layperson doesn't like to acknowledge, because surely someone who disagrees with you has to be thick? Wrong. Same thing applies to the legislators, fwiw.

Re:Hacker??!! (5, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 6 months ago | (#46225161)

Ok I'l give you another analogy.

This is pretty much like leaving a stack of pamphlets on a table in a train station, then arresting those who pick one up for possession of classified material.

I can't make it any clearer: Content that is behind a URL in a publicly searchable server directory, with no password or secure session protection, has been placed in plain sight in public. There is no fault in accessing it, nor in republishing it (posting the pamphlet on the door of your house) unless it contained an explicit copyright restriction statement.

Re:Hacker??!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225261)

Hey!

The world wide web was designed to make accessible via hyperlinks (URLs) a whole bunch of documents / generated content. Key word being accessible. If someone is stupid enough to put documents intended not to be public on the public world wide web, that's their issue.

It is not a transgression on the part of the person who used the URL to access the content, doing nothing more than the technology is explicitly designed to do.

So people who download copyrighted movies illegally need not worry since it is only the person who put it up there that is responsible?

Re:Hacker??!! (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225373)

In a sane world, yes. You go after the people illegally distributing it, not the people receiving it.

Re:Hacker??!! (4, Interesting)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 6 months ago | (#46225681)

It's insane to try to prosecute the downloader. My 6 year old loves to watch youtube videos.
Alot of the words she knows how to spell like 'dora' and 'mickey mouse' are copyrighted.
How is she (or her grandma or anyone else) suppose to know that video A is ok to watch
but video B (which youtube is still getting ad revenue from) is copywrited and illegal.
Honestly half the time I can't even tell. I assume that full length movies on youtube
(yes there are quite a few, my kids stumble upon them all the time) are illegal but youtube
does a terrible job of enforcing it on all but the most popular movies and there is tons
of gray area as I'm assuming some of the shows like the disney ones are probably
actually licensed but then again even some of those have poorer quality and might
be bootleg. Prosecuting the downloader especially if the provider is someone like
google or youtube is like prosecuting someone because walmart sold them a bootleg
dvd.

Re:Hacker??!! (5, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#46225023)

Just because you CAN do something, it doesn't mean it's okay to do it. This creates a horrible survival-of-the-fittest arms race techno-bureaucracy where values are absent.

In this case, when a PUBLIC agency violates their own security protocol, and turns over all its internal documents to the internet, it means EXACTLY that it is OK to do so.

Your analogy of walking into an unlocked office fails the sniff test. (not to mention the stupid analogy test).

He did not break. He did not illegally enter. There was no door. He didn't deprive them of anything. The documents might as well have been stacked neatly in the public park, with signs and arrows pointing to the juicy bits.

The government agency already published the documents.

Re:stacked neatly in the public park (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225145)

Naw a better example is the documents are stacked neatly in the park, covered by a fallen tree frond, and then snow fell on top of it.

So then Park Maintenance removed the snow and the Recreation Dept removed the tree frond, and there the documents were.

Re:Hacker??!! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225183)

In this case, when a PUBLIC agency violates their own security protocol,

What the fuck has its being "PUBLIC" got to do with it? Maybe you're making parochial assumptions about licensing of government documents.

He did not break.

Straw man - "unlocked office"

He did not illegally enter.

Straw man - It's not the entering that's relevant - in many countries, trespass isn't illegal anyway.

It's about the duplicating of the documents located in a private place, and the republishing.

He didn't deprive them of anything.

Straw man - nobody mentioned theft.

The documents might as well have been stacked neatly in the public park,

False analogy - they weren't located in a public place.

with signs and arrows pointing to the juicy bits.

False analogy - signs and arrows are explicitly created and would imply an intent to draw attention to "the juicy bits". A search engine link merely implies that the spider crawled to or (in rare cares) guesstimated a particular location accessible to the spider.

And not even signs and arrows would imply permission to republish.

Re:Hacker??!! (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#46225243)

In the absence of any keep out signs, (there weren't any), even in France, public items are for free for public consumption.

The only strawman around here is you, and you seem to have most of it in your head.
This guy did nothing wrong. The documents were freely available on the web. There was no security on the site, and no copyright on the documents.

As he states on TFA:

Through a Google search which strictly did not have anything to do with ANSES or with public health, I found myself in the ANSES extranet. Simply by clicking on a search result.

First observation: there are a lot of documents freely available here.
Second observation: they speak about public health.
Third observation: L’ANSES is a public establishment.
Question: Is it that this ought to be public?
Response: (too) obvious at the time: yes.

And he was acquitted!!! But an embarrassed agency appealed..

Re:Hacker??!! (5, Informative)

dnavid (2842431) | about 6 months ago | (#46225455)

In the absence of any keep out signs, (there weren't any), even in France, public items are for free for public consumption.

The only strawman around here is you, and you seem to have most of it in your head. This guy did nothing wrong. The documents were freely available on the web. There was no security on the site, and no copyright on the documents.

As he states on TFA:

The article has an update posted:

UPDATE: Laurelli ended up admitting in testimony that when he found the documents, he traveled back to the homepage that they stemmed from and found an authentication page. This indicated that the documents were likely supposed to be protected. That admission played a part in his later conviction in the appeals court.

In other words, he admitted to the court that he deliberately attempted to determine if the documents were intended to be publicly accessible or not, and had determined *to his own satisfaction* that they were likely not intended to be made public. That's probably why he was not acquitted on the basis of the documents being public. They were, to an uninitiated person. But Laurelli actually knew what he was doing and admitted to the court that he himself believed the documents were not intended to be publicly accessible. So while he thought they "ought to be" public, he also knew they were not intended to be. So by his own admission, he had the requisite intent to steal them from people who did not want them taken.

It seems the lower court acquitted him because all they knew was he got the documents through a public search, and did the right thing by acquitting him. And the appeals court also did the right thing in upholding that acquittal. What they convicted him of was the different crime of retaining and disseminating those documents *after* he realized they were not intended to be public.

Re:Hacker??!! (3, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 6 months ago | (#46225465)

and no copyright on the documents

Copyright is automatic, you don't need to state it explicitly for it to apply. That's why downloading movies from TPB is perfectly legal but redistribution without permission is not.

Re:Hacker??!! (0)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#46225591)

and no copyright on the documents

Copyright is automatic, you don't need to state it explicitly for it to apply.

Really? Can you quote me the exact chapter and verse of French Law that makes this true??

Re:Hacker??!! (2)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 6 months ago | (#46225735)

That's why downloading movies from TPB is perfectly legal but redistribution without permission is not.

Downloading from TPB can still get you in trouble if you are using a normal bittorrent client.
Bittorrent does tit for tat swapping so unless you set it to leach mode (which will all but kill your transfer speed)
then by just using bittorrent to download a movie you are helping to distribute it.

Re:Hacker??!! (1)

Golddess (1361003) | about 6 months ago | (#46225275)

In particular, if the door is unlocked, that doesn't mean you can walk into the building and take photocopies of everything you find there, then publish the documents.

This isn't an unlocked, unsupervised door to a building, this is your crazy ex who still has a valid key holding a garage sale while you are out of town. The people perusing the contents of your home looking for items to take/buy didn't know the crazy ex did not have the right to let them in.

Re:Hacker??!! (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 6 months ago | (#46225421)

but there is no warning, no separation between the files they wanted people to read and the files they didn't want people to read.

I can't just post nekkid photos of myself on a publicly accessible and indexed web page and then start suing people when they mock me for them...

what a TERRIBLE analogy (1)

Camael (1048726) | about 6 months ago | (#46225575)

In particular, if the door is unlocked, that doesn't mean you can walk into the building and take photocopies of everything you find there, then publish the documents.

This is a prime example of the misuse of analogies to try and equate things which are not the same.

How is clicking on an online link in any way similar to walking into a building? A building has walls purpose built to keep people out. In the case of this French website, what is your "wall"? And to stretch your faulty analogy further, if an area appears to be public land, are you not able to stroll around and take photographs?

Re:Hacker??!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225655)

Hey dumbshit - if someone posts something out in the open, then guess what, they WANTED YOU TO READ IT, DOWNLOAD IT, ETC.

If they didn't, they wouldn't leave it out in the open.

If someone leaves their blinds open and you see them doing something normal people wouldn't want you to see, doesn't make you a peeping tom, makes them liable for indecent exposure.

Now, can you tell the difference between intent and stupidity? Can the laws differentiate? Nope! So if it's there, it was intended to be available for download, period.

Old problem (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 6 months ago | (#46224999)

A lot of the stuff in Bruce Sterling's "The Hacker Crackdown" comes under that category or close to it. The book can legally be read online.

Re:Hacker??!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225055)

Yeah they should be fining Dice.com for that hideous beta site.

Fuck beta!!!

Re:Hacker??!! (2, Interesting)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about 6 months ago | (#46225269)

The mistake he made was knowingly publish documents that didn't belong to him and which he knew weren't supposed to be publicly available. If you read the article, the only information the authorities had in the beginning was that someone had documents they should have had and that the IP address used to access them was foreign (Panama, because of his VPN). They then traced that back to him which looked awfully suspicious. They had no idea he simply stumbled upon them through a Google search. So at first they were sure they were hacked, they didn't realize the link was right out in the open. The problem was sorted out but he still did the wrong thing by publishing documents that didn't belong to him. That is why he was fined. To me, its a fit punishment. He meant no harm but he knew he shouldn't have done what he did.

He even admits he did the wrong thing:

First observation: there are a lot of documents freely available here.
Second observation: they speak about public health.
Third observation: L'ANSES is a public establishment.
Question: Is it that this ought to be public?
Response: (too) obvious at the time: yes. ...I did it wrong.

Re:Hacker??!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225685)

Response: I did nothing wrong (tftfy)

It was open to the public.
It was accessible by the public.
It was public information.
It was for the public to consume.

Therefor it was not wrong to release it to the public in a form that drew more public awareness to it.

Otherwise if no one saw it, some day down the road, when asked why this entity didn't publicize the information, they could say "But your honor, we did - no one read it or downloaded it, but it was there, and available"

Re:Hacker??!! (1)

pete6677 (681676) | about 6 months ago | (#46225799)

I don't understand why every business doesn't just pull out of France altogether. It can't be worth staying in a place where the government does everything in the absolute dumbest way possible. Whenever I hear of American government stupidity stories I remind myself that at least I don't have to live in France.

Saving face by hurting innocent people (5, Interesting)

ZorinLynx (31751) | about 6 months ago | (#46224579)

I HATE it when governments do this. They can't simply admit to having made a mistake and made those files public (albeit difficult to find). They have to fine this poor person just for coming across something interesting and posting it.

Fuck them. Fuck them hard with a chainsaw, every last one of them who pushed for this.

Re:Saving face by hurting innocent people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46224737)

Governments should be barred from the whole appeals process, without exception.

Re:Saving face by hurting innocent people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46224879)

I thought the French just used Minitel.

Really though when you get pissed off about what the NSA was doing the French have been doing to their people for years. Them, the Brits, and the Germans. So it's theater of the absurd when they get mad at the NSA for spying on their citizens.

Re:Saving face by hurting innocent people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46224957)

Stop the planet I want off. This will never stop unless we as a people make our own laws and kill people over thins kind of thing then it will stop just nothing else is ever going to work. And if we as a people are not willing to do this then we cant complain.

Who cares.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46224601)

Fuck the french

really (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 6 months ago | (#46224615)

I guess my tech illiterate grandma is a hacker then because she can use Google too.
If clicking a link on google is all it takes for you to be branded a hacker now why don't they just lock up everyone that is not Amish (who in turn act as our jailers as they are the only one that can't google things).

Laws server their purpose (4, Insightful)

EMG at MU (1194965) | about 6 months ago | (#46224657)

In this scenario the Law worked perfectly.

Government sets rules on what you can and cannot do,
Government interprets those rules,
Government imposes punishments based on those interpretations.

You piss off the government, they use the laws to make your life hell.

Re:Laws server their purpose (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46224985)

Exactly. It's what happens when you vote for Republicans. They hate the Internet so of course they're going to put everyone that uses it in prison that they can. They've done this for nearly twenty years now. I don't understand why people don't get this.

Re:Laws server their purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225121)

They really have made the Internet nearly useless haven't they? Usenet used to be great before they prevented the people that used it from fighting back against spammers.

Re:Laws server their purpose (1)

pete6677 (681676) | about 6 months ago | (#46225837)

Right, because France is full of Republican legislators.

Re:Laws server their purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225789)

In this scenario, some scum bag dipshit who was full of their own piss decided to pull a power play (probably another Napolean wannabe, or worse a Hitler-in-hiding) and punish someone for doing something that not only wasn't wrong, was absolutely the right thing to do.

The Hitler-in-training-Napolean-wannabe government pissant who prosecuted should be shot, with 50 caliber sniper rifle, while lined up perfectly with the entire prosecuting attorney's team as well as the judge, take out the entire corrupt nazi group at once.

Yes, I said it - those in that government that prosecuted for pointing out, and re-sharing publicly available public documents are the same as the Nazi's back in Hitler's day.

Streisand effect? (1)

Bomarc (306716) | about 6 months ago | (#46224665)

Can someone post enough info .. to generate a Streisand effect? Would love to know what they have to say.

French government (3, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 6 months ago | (#46224687)

Often I marvel at how banal the American government is. Then, occasionally, the UK or French governments make me feel a little better.

Re:French government (3, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | about 6 months ago | (#46224805)

How can you appeal an acquital?

Re:French government (-1)

Calavar (1587721) | about 6 months ago | (#46224877)

I believe that it's possible even in the American system. If the prosecution has new evidence that they think will prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime, they can appeal to a higher court.

Re:French government (2)

jimshatt (1002452) | about 6 months ago | (#46225009)

Is that true? I though the double jeopardy clause ruled this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

Re:French government (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225017)

Uh, no, they cannot. In the US that is known as "double jeopardy" and is not allowed. If you're acquitted, you're done. They can find new evidence, you can write a full confession, it doesn't matter. When that gavel comes down on the "not guilty" verdict, you're no longer capable of being held criminally liable for that particular crime.

If a case is dismissed without prejudice, it can be retried. There is no verdict in that scenario. There's also a separate sovereigns exception, which in some circumstances could allow the feds their own shot at prosecuting, though that wouldn't be applicable here since this would have been tried as a federal crime to begin with.

Re:French government (2)

Calavar (1587721) | about 6 months ago | (#46225075)

Hmm, looks like you're right. I stand corrected.

Re:French government (1)

billrp (1530055) | about 6 months ago | (#46225265)

But I thought even if you are found innocent in a criminal trial you could then be tried in a civil trial, which is what happened to this guy, and could also happen in the US.

Re:French government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225755)

What crime? Publicly sharing public information? How and where is that a crime? Oh wait, that's right, Hitler's France.

Re: French government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225131)

The same way you appeal any other court's decision, notwithstanding that of a Supreme Court's ruling. Look into it. It's a simple procedure to file an appeal that results in a review of the court's adherence to proper procedure. Appeals courts don't retry a case, they merely look for flaws in the original adjudication.

Re:French government (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 6 months ago | (#46225163)

Acquittals are regularly appealed. It could be due to many causes including invalid ruling by the judge, incorrect jury instructions, jury tampering, etc. Basically the premise is that the original trial was flawed in some substantial way and they need to do it again.

Re:French government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225547)

Ask the Italian system that tried Amanda Knox again after an acquittal. Guess they were looking for "best 2 out of 3?"

No more 7331 envy here (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 6 months ago | (#46224689)

I've always referred to myself as a lowly grinder, far beneath the vaulted hacker. I'm feeling pretty high on the geek scale now.

What about negligent webmaster? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46224721)

So what punishment was meted out to the webmaster who failed to properly secure the documents?

Acquitted Then Retried? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46224787)

In France you can be acquitted then tried again?

Re:Acquitted Then Retried? (1)

BitterOak (537666) | about 6 months ago | (#46225229)

Very few countries have double jeopardy rules that work the same way as in the U.S. In most countries, both defense and prosecution can appeal a decision. It is not at all uncommon in these countries for acquittals to be appealed and overturned. This isn't just in Europe. It works that way in Canada, too.

Should Be Public Anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46224793)

Government information, presuming the government is actually for the people and by the people, should all be publicly accessible.

Why is anything accessable on the internet regarde (1)

Gary Greenwell (2883551) | about 6 months ago | (#46224811)

If you forget to lock your front door ( a lapse in security ) is it OK for anyone to come into your house?

Re:Why is anything accessable on the internet rega (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46224841)

Nah. This is more like a public library that wasn't supposed to be open on Sunday. But a researcher tried the door anyway and it was unlocked, took some photocopies, and left a note for the librarian saying "you should really lock the door on Sundays if you aren't going to be here".

Re:Why is anything accessable on the internet rega (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46224873)

If you left a book on the street out the front of your house, but didn't give anybody your address, is it somebodies fault if they read the book?

There is no expectation of privacy here, it is a publicly accessible web page.

Re: Why is anything accessable on the internet reg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225035)

Thank You. The very idea that there can be an analogy between a locked door on a (non-existent) physical structure and a link to an unsecured file on a web server is utterly absurd.

If liability should exist, it should be assigned either to Google or the agency of the government, itself. At which point, if anyone still believes the The People have any rights whatsoever, one must ask how a democratic government can justify keeping information from itself. The only rationale which stands the test of reason depends upon a distinction between the hoi polio and whichever upper class members might suffer harm as a result of daylight.

Re: Why is anything accessable on the internet reg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46224987)

only if they wear uniforms and carry guns. i don't know about france, but in this country texting is a shooting offense. so you walk through a door you beter know whats behind it.
we only have whiny liberals to fool you.

Re:Why is anything accessable on the internet rega (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225067)

Am I a peeping Tom if I glance at your house while walking by and you're having sex in front of an open window?

Woot! (1)

msauve (701917) | about 6 months ago | (#46224861)

Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

tr. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." aka "Lèse-majesté"

The French (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46224885)

These stupid, smelly, arrogant, ignorant, incompetent French twits with their hairy legs, arm pits and faces make me sick. And don't even get me started about French males...

Reasonable (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46224945)

If someone leaves their door open, you don't walk in, copy their private shit and show it to the public.

Re:Reasonable (1, Insightful)

Sabriel (134364) | about 6 months ago | (#46225057)

If someone leaves their door open, you don't walk in, copy their private shit and show it to the public.

But if someone hangs "Public Entrance" over their door, then imprisons you and fines you after you show people what you saw inside, they might be the French government.

Re:Reasonable (3, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 6 months ago | (#46225271)

From the article

UPDATE: Laurelli ended up admitting in testimony that when he found the documents, he traveled back to the homepage that they stemmed from and found an authentication page. This indicated that the documents were likely supposed to be protected. That admission played a part in his later conviction in the appeals court.

The hung out an "authorized persons only" sign but forgot to lock the door.

Re:Reasonable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225383)

More like they hung out an "authorized persons only" sign on the front door, but forgot about the side door.

Re:Reasonable (1)

Imrik (148191) | about 6 months ago | (#46225587)

More like they hung a sign, locked the door, and forgot to build the walls.

Re:Reasonable (1)

Golddess (1361003) | about 6 months ago | (#46225291)

And if someone instead let me in, let me look around, take pictures, and it later turns out that person was your crazy ex who still had a working key to your house?

Got off easy... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225019)

If it were up to me I'd throw the punk in prison for a couple years.

French Law? (1)

Revek (133289) | about 6 months ago | (#46225095)

Couldn't someone sue them for negligence in allowing these documents to be publicly accessible? Really if it was that sensitive, shouldn't the button monkey that allowed them to be indexed by google be the most responsible?

Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (0)

BBF_BBF (812493) | about 6 months ago | (#46225125)

7GB of downloaded files doesn't sound like it was just an "accidental" downloading of some files.
Let's put it this way.
If you misconfigure your wireless access point and leave it open, does that mean that it should be legal for anybody to connect to your network and download all the files from your NAS without penalty? Including *those* pictures of you and ____ doing _____ to _____, and your tax returns from the past 5 years?

Re:Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (1)

BitterOak (537666) | about 6 months ago | (#46225209)

Not only that, but he didn't merely download the files, but republished some of the material on his own website. Even in the U.S. that can lead to big fines or lawsuits for copyright infringement. Had he merely kept the files to himself, he probably wouldn't be in any trouble at all.

Re:Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 6 months ago | (#46225793)

Not only that, but he didn't merely download the files, but republished some of the material on his own website. Even in the U.S. that can lead to big fines or lawsuits for copyright infringement.

Except that, in the US, most if not all works created by the Federal Government or its agents are automatically placed in the public domain [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (1)

Revek (133289) | about 6 months ago | (#46225225)

Go buy offline explorer and set it to any large domain or wget for that matter. Make it ignore robots.txt and grab every link and soon you will have yourself at terabyte of fun. Its bullshit to think that if its publicly accessible that person can't make use of it. How many times have you laughed and said I simply must have that cute little kitty for my person collection? Thats you lolcat thief. This is retaliation for some small minded crat who got his panties in a wad. The only place this guy went wrong is perhaps he should have told the journalist that he could search google for his search term and find the goodies.

Re:Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about 6 months ago | (#46225233)

First, it's not theft. Making a copy will never be theft. Get over it.

Second, yes, it damn well should be legal. The Internet is primarily a publishing engine. It's for publishing things. As in, making them available to the public. If you're an ignorant jackoff, you shouldn't be on the fucking Internet in the first place. Your malware infested piece of shit computer is a menace to everyone around you. No, there should be no penalty for anyone accessing files YOU PUBLISHED. Or files the government published.

"But I didn't mean to" is the last refuge of the incompetent.

Stop denigrating intelligence. Stop vilifying education. Stop demanding the government level draconian punishments against other people for your fuckups. It's not like the necessary knowledge is restricted to some exclusive priesthood or elite guild. It's freely available and easy to find. Learn it. Use it.

And stop defending people who actively avoid learning.

Re:Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 6 months ago | (#46225279)

First, it's not theft. Making a copy will never be theft. Get over it.

Then there is no theft of credit card information or any other personal information stored on servers. Sorry but I don't believe that.

Re:Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225311)

The theft occurs when you impersonate a person by using those numbers under their name and steal their identity.

Re:Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (1)

Revek (133289) | about 6 months ago | (#46225315)

Thats weak.

Re:Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 6 months ago | (#46225763)

It's stronger than to original statement.

Re:Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (1)

Revek (133289) | about 6 months ago | (#46225871)

In what way? He compares a clear crime with a supposed crime. His case makes every person who ever retold what they have learned a criminal act.

Re:Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225581)

That's called "fraud" and "breach of privacy", not theft.

Re:Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 6 months ago | (#46225323)

It wasn't an accident that he downloaded them, it was an accident that they were up there at all, or in a publicly-accessible way. They were indexed by Google, after all (shouldn't they have been named co-defendants?)

From the gibberish in TFA, it sounds like the site had some sort of Javascript user authentication on index and search pages, but direct URLs always worked. I'm not sure how that let Google index them, but even the government is claiming that anyone who tried to access those URLs would get 200s, not 403s.

Further, the documents appeared, to this guy at least, to be things that would have been public - he "hacked" the rough equivalent of the FDA, not the DOD or DHS.

Better analogy: you're in a military surplus store and find a bunch of boots (hardly unusual in a surplus store, in fact it would be very odd to find one that did not have a few racks of military footware). You buy them (because you needed costumes for a play or something (note to Hollywood: The Sound of Music hasn't been remade in nearly five decades, time to get on a modern-day retelling)), take them home, and leave them in a box for a while. A few days later the National Guard swarms your house and you're arrested for treason because those boots have some sort of new sole that's classified as weapons-grade, and those boots were never supposed to be surplussed in the first place.

At no point did you have any idea that anything was wrong - you went to a place where items are sold, you bought some items that were commonly sold (or to bypass the metaphor, you went to a site that searches public information, and found information that you were allowed to access). The fault would logically lie with whoever had those boots/documents made available to the public incorrectly (if, in fact, it is incorrect - what kind of stuff about food safety should *not* be public data?).

Re:Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (1)

Golddess (1361003) | about 6 months ago | (#46225333)

If you misconfigure your wireless access point and leave it open, does that mean that it should be legal for anybody to connect to your network and download all the files from your NAS without penalty? Including *those* pictures of you and ____ doing _____ to _____, and your tax returns from the past 5 years?

Yes. You wouldn't blame the recipients if, instead of a misconfigured wireless access point, it was your crazy ex who still had a key who was giving out free copies of those documents, would you?

slow yer roll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225343)

Dude clicked on a search result. How do you tell by an URL alone that something is out of the public domain? Not exactly the same thing as leaving an open access point unprotected and downloading from somebodies computer.

Re:Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225347)

Yes.
How should I know that you put a bunch of files online that you don't want me to see?
If you print out everything on your hard drive and put it in a library you can't expect people not to read it and take it home.

Re:Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (1)

Zargg (1596625) | about 6 months ago | (#46225351)

Yes it should be legal. You are the one broadcasting your information out to the public, why would it be illegal for someone to listen?

Re:Theft from an Unprotected Site is Still Theft (1)

hyfe (641811) | about 6 months ago | (#46225513)

Downloading from a NAS on a local network is substantially different from downloading from a webserver on the internet.

The first one is obviously intended for local use, and unless one has good reasons to believe otherwise one should assume it's private content.

.. a fucking webserver on the fucking internet following a link from fucking google? That's tree separate reasons for assuming it's public content intended for sharing, so that's what any reasonable person should assume it is.

Apples != Oranges (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225185)

A little bit like leaving your belongings laying on the footpath outside your house, then having someone arrested for breaking and entering when they pick some of them up and walk off.

Fortunately (4, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | about 6 months ago | (#46225193)

Having learned from previous mistakes, the agency had taken the precaution of encrypting the documents using an incomprehensible standard known as "French," so no one really paid it any mind.

They're french. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225247)

When has anyone accused the french of doing anything intelligent.

Theft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225367)

They say he "stole" the documents...

Um, sorry google, I apparently stole your search page today. Several times. Now I feel bad. Do you need it back?

Not the end of the story (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 6 months ago | (#46225437)

In this case, the "hacked" agency was not willing to sue, because they were ashamed of having published documents by mistake.

The case happened anyway because the general attorney wanted it, despite he did not understand what it was about.

The case will now probably move to the Cour de Cassation or the Conseil d'Etat, which are both french supreme courts.

If you find an house with open door do you enter ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225459)

Look I hate governemental abuse like everybody, but the fact is , if you find a house with open door, or an non working lock and you enter, you are still trespassing. Why do the hell some people on slashdot think this is not the same with a server, and then the next article try to say we don't need new law as existing law for physical items (mail/email comparison) are still good enough ? Well yadida, it is obviously that in such case trespassing law would be used.

Re:If you find an house with open door do you ente (1)

Revek (133289) | about 6 months ago | (#46225535)

Not the same thing. Not even close. Private dwellings on the internet are supposed to protected by some form of authentication.. Its a enormous library. If you want something kept secret don't be a luser and put it on the internet. I guarantee the root cause of this is some jackass who wanted to be able to access their data from home. He didn't go around url hacking, he used google. Its like they put it in the yellow pages and got pissed when someone saw it.

Govt. avg. IQ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225699)

Since medicine, technology, and businesses tend to attract the brightest people, sadly the leftovers end up in governments. Too bad they have so (too) much power over truly innocent people.

(my captcha is "insipid" - oh the irony...)

Not the full story (a.k.a RTF) (2, Insightful)

EnempE (709151) | about 6 months ago | (#46225731)

He admitted in court that he had been to the front page of the site where they were hosted and was aware that the documents were not intended to be available to the public. Finding them by accident on Google is one thing and not the point of contention here. Then downloading all of them and then republishing them knowing full well that what you are doing is definitely unethical and probably illegal is another matter. The blogger runs a security company and should have informed the company of the fault before blogging about it. This is not the kind of practice that is considered acceptable in the security community. Given that it could be considered as a criminal offence in Europe to access the documents without the requisite authorization you can take the fine (no prison time, no criminal conviction) as not a bad outcome. The issue here is that the court had no idea about the the online environment or what crime online is before the trial which speaks to a definite problem in regards to the training of judicial staff.

Broken lock analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225747)

Hi, I am French, form what I read, he was convicted because he admitted he knew the files were meant to be protected by a password.

He stumbled on the files doing a google search
But then, he went to the home page of the site portal and checked users were asked to login to access the site ....
Even though he found that anyone had access to the files using a url ...
Then he proceeded to get all the files he could from the site ... Without telling the site!
That's why he was convicted : He knew he was doing something wrong! And still did it ...

You see a building with a broken lock, you loot it?

Another view of this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46225831)

Disclaimer: IANAL

Just to be a little more complete on this topic, while interrogated by police, Olivier Laurelli recognized that when going up directory structure he found the login page of the site containing the documents and thus was aware that this site was intended to be protected (even if this protection was utterly flawed) before getting a copy of the documents. This knowledge made him fall under the French law regarding "fraudulently staying in an automated data processing system" ("se maintenir frauduleusement dans un système de traitement automatisé de données").

The other point regarding "theft of documents" is highly dubious though, because, as often in "hacking" cases, there is no real "theft" the original files being still on their server...

It will be up to the "cour de cassation" (higher French jurisdiction) to decide about this.
(or maybe even "European Court of Justice")

Legal explanation on this ( French) site http://www.maitre-eolas.fr/post/2014/02/07/NON%2C-on-ne-peut-pas-%C3%AAtre-condamn%C3%A9-pour-utiliser-Gougleu where the case is "dissected" by an attorney.

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