Last week, the U.S. District Court in Boston sentenced a
17-year-old Massachusetts boy to 11 months in a juvenile detention facility and
two years supervised release for a series of computer crimes—most notable the
illegal accessing of Paris Hilton's T-Mobile Sidekick. The teen plead guilty to
nine counts of juvenile delinquency. During this time the teen is prohibited
from having or using a computer, cell phone or other device capable ofaccessing the Internet.
Although the illegal accessing of Hilton's cell phone and
the subsequent posting the device's contents garnered the most media attention,
this young man's criminal activity goes far beyond the outing of celebrity
dirt. This teen's 15-month crime spree included making bomb threats to multiple
schools, illegally accessing T-Mobile's network and creating fraudulent phone
accounts, perpetrating a DoS attack against T-Mobile, illegally accessing and
installing spyware on internal AOL computers, obtaining proprietary AOL
information, and illegally accessing LexisNexis databases, which may havecompromised the information of 310,000 Americans.
Honestly, had this youth only pulled off the Hilton hack I
would consider the 11-month detention a bit harsh. America's juvenile justice
system puts greater emphasis on rehabilitation and reintegration than the adult
system, and I would expect a first-time offender who caused limited damage to
receive a lighter sentence. The facts in this case however, illustrate the guilty
party's persistent and flagrant disregard for private property, public safety, personalprivacy and US law. The 11-month detention is therefore highly appropriate.
It is unlikely that this sentence will dissuade the many criminal
organizations that now perpetrate a significant portion of cybercrime. Yet I am
hopeful the deprivation of this individual's freedom and subsequent supervision
will serve as both a specific and general deterrent to the casual cybermiscreant.
Specific meaning the sentence will dissuade this individual from continuing such
illegal activity and general meaning the sentence will serve as a warning toother would-be offenders.
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Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.