Ernie the Attorney : searching for truth & justice (in an unjust world)
Updated: 6/5/2003; 10:32:36 PM.


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Wednesday, April 03, 2002

AP article on failed conviction of hacker based on insufficient damage

A prosecution in Miami under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which was  intended to crack down on computer hacking, has failed based on a finding of insufficient damage.

"Computer technician Herbert Pierre-Louis was convicted of knowingly transmitting a computer virus to his employer. But the jury decided the loss, not including lost profits, was less than $5,000, the minimum required for a conviction."  [Link]

I don't practice criminal law so I have trouble understanding how the jury could "convict" but then find that the loss failed to meet a certain threshold.  Perhaps my good friend Rich Westling can explain it to me.   Or he could post a comment and explain it to everyone.  C'mon Rich!

11:53:59 PM    

Blogging on the Mid-East Crisis

The Electronic Intifada represents a blog carrying the Palestinian point of view. [Link]

10:46:54 PM    

Thoughts on the Wen Ho Lee case - Prompted by Dave Winer's post

Dave writes "Phone talk with a reporter yesterday, not an interview. He raised a concern that makes me pause for thought. He cited the Wen Ho Lee case, where the NY Times ran a story that turned out to be false. So the pro's are concerned, rightfully, about the damage they can do by shooting from the hip."   [Scripting News]

I recently had the pleasure of hearing a talk by Mark Holscher, one of the attorneys that defended Wen Ho Lee.  That is a fascinating story.  Lee was accused of passing confidential information about nuclear launch codes, using his clearance and the access he had as a scientist at the Los Alamos Laboratory.  The real problem was not just that the N.Y. Times wrote a story that turned out to be false.  The FBI actually used the story as an impetus to its investigation, and also attempted to coerce a confession from Lee using the false stories written by the paper. 

There was never any proof that he passed launch codes to the Chinese, although he did admit to mishandling the secret information.  One of the most interesting things that Holscher pointed out during the talk was something I know the computer guys will appreciate:  even if Lee had passed the technology for the nuclear launch codes to another country such as China, it would not have helped the other nation.  The compatibility issues between our computer systems would have been a nightmare, and so the information was not useful.  In fact, our government had allowed Lee and other scientists at Los Alamos to travel to China to talk about the technology in the past (the theory being that it would help if we all knew as much as possible about how to avoid misfiring nuclear weapons).

Lee wound up pleading to the lesser offense of mishandling secret information, and the federal judge wound up apologizing to him for the mistreatment that he received from the government.  And, of course, the N.Y. Times ran an apology.  Lee as written a book about his mistreatment.  Dan Stober of the San Jose Mercury-News has also written a book about this sad chapter in American Justice.

10:24:53 PM    

Lovely Rita Meter Maid

Parking Meter Woes? Get Answers Online. When Victor Fernandez moved his music store to a different building in Santa Monica, Calif., he discovered that the parking meters outside allowed only 15 minutes. He went to the city's Web site and sent an e-mail message to officials to ask for meters that allowed an hour.  [New York Times: Technology]

Here in New Orleans we have a company that goes around and feeds your meter before it runs out.  They get money from advertisers whose message is left on the flyer that your parking savior leaves on your car winshield.   Interesting concept.  I wonder if it is happening anywhere else?  They have a website.  Check it out.   [Feedmymeter]

10:11:43 PM    

Virtual Reality enters the Courtroom

"During a federal manslaughter prosecution, a witness will don VR glasses and gloves, enter a virtual operating room, and recreate a surgery gone bad while jurors look on."   [MSNBC] [via Jenny]

I'm just waiting for my first trial with videoconferenced witness testimony. 

10:05:45 PM    

© Copyright 2003 Ernest Svenson.

Comments by: YACCS

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