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Visit an adult site at work and go to prison

An Ohio man was convicted on a hacking charge for using his work-provided computer in a way not sanctioned by his employer. Specifically, Richard Wolf spent 100 work hours visiting various adult web sites rather than working. Instead of simply being fired, Mr. Wolf is instead convicted of hacking. Read an overview of the case and let us know what you think. Should Mr. Wolf have this conviction on his record?

By now, most people who take the plunge and visit adult-oriented web sites while on duty understand that they risk being fired very quickly.  However, how many of these same people expect to be jailed for this infraction?  I'd bet that not very many people expect that this inappropriate behavior would land them in the clink.  An Ohio man, Richard Wolf, is learning the hard way the consequences that can be attached to what, while stupid, might seem like victimless behavior in the workplace.

In April of 2006, Mr. Wolf's life took a turn for the worse when Larry Wise, the Superintendent of the Shelby City Wastewater Treatment Plant, found a nude photograph of Mr. Wolf on Mr. Wolf's city-owned computer.  A full investigation ensued once Mr. Wise's supervisor, Shelby Utilities Director Brad Harvey, involved the local police.  The investigation discovered that Mr. Wolf spent 100 hours on-the-clock perusing adult-themed web sites and ultimately searching for, locating and communicating with a professional dominatrix.  During the investigation, Mr. Wolf admitted that he did, in fact, use his work computer inappropriately and that his behavior was "unethical and wrong."

Unfortunately for Mr. Wolf, this "unethical and wrong" behavior quickly turned into a legal nightmare.  Specifically, Mr. Wolf was initially convicted of a number of crimes, including "Unauthorized access to a computer." Under Ohio law, this is a felony.  Mr. Wolf was sentenced to fifteen months in prison, ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and ordered to pay restitution of $2,392 to the city for the 100 hours of wages.  On another charge, one count of solicitation (for Mr. Wolf's efforts in soliciting a prostitute), Mr. Wolf was sentenced to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Mr. Wolf appealed the original convictions on a number of counts.  For this article, I'll focus on the "unauthorized access to a computer" conviction appeal.  In his appeal, Mr. Wolf's attorneys wrote:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY OVERRULING DEFENDANT APPELLANT'S MOTION FOR A DIRECTED VERDICT OF ACQUITTAL AS TO THE CHARGE OF UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS OF A COMPUTER, AS THERE WAS INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO ESTABLISH THE ELEMENTS OF A VIOLATION OF OHIO REVISED CODE SECTION 2913.04(B).

The law cited, Ohio RC 2913.04 reads:

(A) No person shall knowingly use or operate the property of another without the consent of the owner or person authorized to give consent.

(B) No person, in any manner and by any means, including, but not limited to, computer hacking, shall knowingly gain access to, attempt to gain access to, or cause access to be gained to any computer, computer system, computer network, cable service, cable system, telecommunications device, telecommunications service, or information service without the consent of, or beyond the scope of the express or implied consent of, the owner of the computer, computer system, computer network, cable service, cable system, telecommunications device, telecommunications service, or information service or other person authorized to give consent.

Based on the opinion of the appellate court that Mr. Wolf's conduct was "beyond the scope of the express or implied consent" of the computer's owner - the City of Shelby - the Ohio appellate court hearing the appeal upheld what amounts to a "hacking" charge for Mr. Wolf.  The law in question was originally intended to convict those that inappropriately access sensitive records outside the scope of their job responsibilities.  For example, suppose an office worker in the medical office accessed and sold the patient database.

It seems that this interpretation of the law could result in all kind of legal abuse.  Was Mr. Wolf singled out because he access adult web sites?  What about the person down the hall that spends half her day on eBay?  Could she be convicted for hacking as well under the same line of reasoning?  Could the office worker that kicks back at lunch time and plays Solitaire also be convicted if the City's acceptable use policy prohibits playing games?

There is a lesson to be learned from this incident:  Make sure you have a rock solid acceptable user policy at work that includes directives should a supervisor observe impropriety.  Personally, I believe that the person that contacted the police was wrong to do so, particularly if he did not first communicate with Human Resources about the incident.  This entire situation could have been settled without legal action and without ruining Mr. Wolf's life.  Apparently, at the time of Mr. Wolf's lapse in judgment, the city did not have in place an acceptable use policy.  Sure, Mr. Wolf should have known that looking for a prostitute on city time was relatively stupid, but should be in jail for hacking?

Further, it seems that the statute that was used to convict Mr. Wolf needs to be rethought unless the intent of the state of Ohio is to make criminals out of just about every office worker in the state.  How many have sent a personal email or played a game on a work computer, even if it's against the rules?  While I do believe that people should generally obey the rules, if they fail to do so, they shouldn't be sent to jail.

My take: For the charge of "hacking" Mr. Wolf shouldn't be in jail.  It's an unjust reading of the law and an overzealous prosecution that made this happen.  I agree that Mr. Wolf screwed up, but he should have been fired, not convicted.

What's your take?

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

163 comments
Cannabis Seed
Cannabis Seed

Way over the top, people won't work to their full potential if the feel that oppressed. At the end of the day there has to be flexibility in the work place. If someone wants to check their facebook, buy a cannabis seed , try some online dating or whatever, just let them..

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

"My take: For the charge of ?hacking? Mr. Wolf shouldn?t be in jail. It?s an unjust reading of the law and an overzealous prosecution that made this happen. I agree that Mr. Wolf screwed up, but he should have been fired, not convicted." I would have to say your take on this is wrong. The wording of the law, which you quote says; " (A) No person shall knowingly use or operate the property of another without the consent of the owner or person authorized to give consent. (B) No person, in any manner and by any means, including, but not limited to, computer hacking, shall knowingly gain access to, attempt to gain access to, or cause access to be gained to any computer, computer system, computer network, cable service, cable system, telecommunications device, telecommunications service, or information service without the consent of, or beyond the scope of the express or implied consent of, the owner of the computer, computer system, computer network, cable service, cable system, telecommunications device, telecommunications service, or information service or other person authorized to give consent." This makes it very clear the law is supposed to cover a lot more things than hacking. There's a lot of ways to improperly use a computer. And this guy did a few of them. So the answer is - yes he should be in prison for this offence.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Loose laws are always USED this way. As I have tried to explain to people here before, many laws need redifinition in order to be applicable today, whereas they were initially intended for a completely different instance, now they have been bent and reshaped to cover so many other grey areas. I disagree with the hacking charges. The guy HAD permission to USE the computer, but was using it for purposes other than it was intended. HE didn't break into or hack the computer, he simply used it incorrently and should rightly be held responsible by the owner of the computer. He was fired and then has to repay the hours where he was paid to use it for other means. This seems a more than suitable punishment for such a menial crime, but a felony charge of hacking is a bit much, good lawyer, bad defense.

AV .
AV .

Storing naked pictures of yourself and sending them to adult web sites during work or after work on a company owned computer is a definite no. I don't think he deserves jail time though. Thats excessive. Shopping on ebay and sending out naked pictures of yourself to adult web sites, at work, are not the same thing. Both of them are time wasters, but I doubt that I'll see anyone convicted of excessive shopping on ebay at work. Employers are responsible for employee behavior in the work place. One person can create a hostile environment for other employees if you employ a person like Mr. Wolf. A company that doesn't have an acceptable use policy in place can be held liable if they don't have a copy of it with your signature that you understood what you read. I think the Hacker's law they convicted Mr. Wolf for shouldn't apply here. He needs a better lawyer. AV

imischick
imischick

I really do not think that this man should have been convicted for hacking. Do we just waste tax payer money on stupid cases like this. Not to mention the permanent damage to this man's life over some porn. He wasn't looking at underage children. It seems that the only person hurt was him. I hope that he can get his life together after this.

stephenatBA
stephenatBA

He should of received a letter of reprimand not a trial and jailed, he didn't sale any private Identity and he didn't do anything less that any judge, attorney,congressmen or senator has done in their careers even far, but yet all you idiots keep sending them back to office. Ethics learn the subject before you claim to know it.

TheChas
TheChas

I have to wonder if some details of how Mr. Wolf was accessing the adult sites are missing from the story. Many company and government IT systems have web filters, trackers and site blockers. "IF" Mr. Wolf hacked his way around the filters and tracking software, then he did hack the system and should face the punishment as defined by the law. Being that the specifics of hacking the filters is both of a sensitive and highly technical nature, it is very possible those details were left out of the reports if not restricted by court order. It would also be interesting to see the Internet Access Policy of the city and what limitations and actions were agreed to. Chas

fewiii
fewiii

There's no other way to describe it.

BK_CP
BK_CP

I believe your headline is not completely accurate, and that David Smaull provides a great legal analysis below. I've not reviewed the legal documents, nor am I a legal expert, but it seems that the key here is that the unauthorized use of the computer was for criminal conduct - solicitiation of a prostitute. Hence the felony charges, rather than the mere visit to a porn site. Regardless of what sent him to prison, I do agree that in addition to an Acceptable Use Policy, the workplace should also have had a technology measure in place designed to prevent the type of behavior that caused all the trouble in the first place. There are any number of tools to help workplaces prevent these issues or to address them before they get to the level that Mr. Wolf has taken them to. If any business wants to learn more about how to prevent this, I would encourage them to visit our Security Center at http://www.cyberpatrol.com/businesssecurity.asp

aandains
aandains

If the author had read the articles and court documents linked in his own article, he would see that the person who discovered the nude images did not contact the police, he contacted his supervisor. His supervisor then contacted the Chief of police for advice. When the chief wasn't available, the computer was turned over to police the next day. What I think many are forgetting is the original incident was the discovery of a nude photograph of the employee on the computer. Not just porn. We don't know what the content or context of that image was so it is difficult to pass judgment on the decision to involve the police. Further more, the summary of the proceedings indicates the defendant admitted to using City resources to COMMIT A CRIME by soliciting a prostitute through his work email. He got what he deserved and he would have gotten away with committing a crime if it was just handed to HR and he was fired.

mcseinfla
mcseinfla

I could be wrong, but it seems that the danger here isn't porn, although you shouldn't use company property for anything not work related, but that lawyers, and judges, arn't tech people, but interpret the laws. For example, the statute quoted means that you're guilty if accessing a system without consent etc. not for inappropriately using systems to which you are allowed access. Although it's a point of semantics, the law is the law, and if it don't say something then you shouldn't be charge for what it don't say.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Though while at work one should be working, not working it.

wrightii
wrightii

I always believed that hacking meant breaking into a site? Lawyer was a dummy and judge was even dumber.

roberth
roberth

If somebody makes an unauthorized stop in a company vehicle can they now be charged with auto theft? Can somebody loafing on the job be charged with trespassing? Some folks consider unauthorized use of a work computer to be "stealing" from the employer. You're just slacking not actually stealing or hacking. You should certainly be reprimanded or fired but a criminal prosecution is going overboard.

JimInPA
JimInPA

Sure he is an idiot and should be fired but convicted and jailed for hacking? Come on! Ridiculous. Not to mention a waste of tax payer dollars putting someone in jail for that.

charlesnadler2
charlesnadler2

As a criminal defense lawyer, I want to thank all taxpayers who think he should go to prison. You pay for my pleasant lifestyle! But here is what I think. First, the law is incredibly poorly written, and I think he neither stole data from his employer, nor hacked other websites. What he did is conversion of public property to private use. This could be prosecuted as a crime, or there is a tort, or he could have his pay docked as punishment or he could be fired. But prison? Nonsense! The next time an employee uses the work telephone system to order something will they prosecute? I doubt it. It is simply sex that is the problem. We Americans are mostly insane about sex. This proves it! So, keep lining my pockets! Bad economy? Not for me! Religious fanatics love paying me! Or, at least it seems that way! Thank you!

herlizness
herlizness

> ANY reasonable reading of the Ohio statute should make it clear to a reasonable person that the express or implied consent in question here and required by the statute is that of the owner of the device which is accessed and NOT the owner of the device used to gain access. Mr. Wolf clearly was authorized to use the computer sitting on his desktop and there is not a shred of evidence in the record that he did not have the implied consent of the owners of any the computers, devices or services he accessed; they were all publicly open and available. What is really being complained of is WHAT he accessed and not whether he was authorized to gain access. That is a matter controlled by the computer use policies of the owner of the computer he used at his desk and specifically NOT controlled by the Ohio statute. He may have violated such policy but that policy cannot and does not provide for imprisonment and/or fines. Rarely have I seen public officials discharge their duty with such a limited, impoverished understanding of state law.

dirtylaundry
dirtylaundry

so when he agreed to work for the State of OH he had to have signed paperwork that stated that he read and understood the State's laws regarding computers. And if he didn't sign any such papers, much like the tax laws and DMV, they say that ignorance of the law is no excuse. I am pretty sure they are applying that here. Again, I agree that it is absolute BS to charge him for hacking - and yea his lawyer stinks.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

"Shopping on ebay and sending out naked pictures of yourself to adult web sites, at work, are not the same thing" Well besides the material being different, the action is teh same. In this specific case, it is being charged as unauthorized use. If company policy allows use for auctions etc. then you are right, however unless that is defined then it is the exact same offense, unauthorized use. The material is irrelevant as the activity of havign adult photos on a PC is not illegal, just the solicitation. Had it been child porn or something, I would side with you again, as THAT is illegal. The only way I see difference, in this specific case, is that he did commit the offense of soliciting sex. THAT should be his only actual crime, his usage was outside of company policy, therefore the company can punish him for that (as they did by reclaiming the hours logged). Beyond that, there is no crime though and certainly unauthorized use is unathorized use no matter where you are surfing. If ONE employee is charged with hacking for unauthorized use based simply on the fact that it was not work related, then so should ANYONE else using them for ANY reason outide of policy.

Kostaghus
Kostaghus

First of all, let's just stop being so judgmental on the poor bastard! Second, I used to have a colleague, a huge fan of flowers that had an entire collection of plants at his home. He used company computer to upload pictures and even movies of his flowers to some obscure florists' sites... If he would have been an employee of Shelby Waste water plant, he would have been cell mate to Mr. What's his name we're talking about here... The colleague I was talking about was caught "red handed" by the company's GM. The only thing he got was a mild warning... Is this more acceptable use than the other guy's?! Why so?

Kostaghus
Kostaghus

Soon, it will be a crime to be too fat or to smoke, or to get yourself drunk at the local pub. Depression will be a crime. All people should be content, sane, happy and healthy. All men were created equal. However, some are more equal than others...

dirtylaundry
dirtylaundry

It has been established that in summary: 1- no filters, passwords, firewalls were in place 2- the felony is *hacking* 3- solicitation of sex is a misdemeanor 4- there were no written Computer Usage Policy in place 5- the State's Statutes are in use here vs Mr. Wolf since he was working for the City of Shelby of OH 6- It is heading to the Supreme Court of OH after having gone thru appellate court. 7- His Adult Friend Finder activities happened in 2005 and the nude pic of Mr. Wolf was discovered in 2006. 8- he was suspended upon discovery of photo, given a promotion after his suspension was lifted, and fired once he was charged with the alleged crimes of hacking into a computer in which he had authorization to use. 9- The State of OH is taking a vaguely written law and poorly applying it to this case.

dirtylaundry
dirtylaundry

the solicitation for sex is a misdemeanor I think I need to post this a few more times before people actually read this before posting /sigh

dirtylaundry
dirtylaundry

**************** basalt51 wrote: "Further more, the summary of the proceedings indicates the defendant admitted to using City resources to COMMIT A CRIME by soliciting a prostitute through his work email. He got what he deserved and he would have gotten away with committing a crime if it was just handed to HR and he was fired." ************* you would have seen that this was the misdemeanor part and the *hacking* charge is the felony

user support
user support

Going to prison for "hacking" does seem extreme but now that Mr. David Smull furnished the reference from the Court of Appeals, we can see that "hacking" is not correct in this case. There are still many missing pieces to issue and situation. When you work for a governmental entity whether you are the worker bee or the politician, the public is putting their trust in you to spend their tax dollars wisely. Employees are also taxpayers, so they want to make sure their co-workers are not getting any more benefits than themselves. Pornography tends to get more employees in trouble because it may also cross the line on any sexual harassment policy, if one is in place. One of the feedbacks from a local Ohio newspaper said that in light of the number of hours the employee admitted surfing the web, the job should be reduced to a part-time status to save taxpayers money.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

It's too bad that they don't do that with The Constitution. You don't have a snowball's chance of getting the position of a Federal Supreme Court Justice (legally, there is no problem with you NOT having a law background) IF you 1) appear to disfavor one party's antics, 2) are a literalist when reading The Constitution, or 3) will interpret The Constitution as our forefathers intended it to mean. You are right that most lawyers and judges aren't as tech saavy as they should be... that even applies to our own Government. If they were, there wouldn't be so many badly written laws on the books to be taken advantage of.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...and the charge was really computer whacking, with intent to distribute?? (yeah, I just channeled my inner Scummy on that one). ;)

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

as a reasonable reading of any law. The way the courts read them, and are required to read them, are as a strict meaning of the actual words as they are. If the law is loosely worded, then the courts, especially the higher courts are allowed to put a clarification of the meaning of the phrases, but not on if they're intended to cover this specific act or not. No one has any doubt Wolfe had consent to use the system for the purposes of the work he did as per his terms of employment as set out in the contract and / or duty statement. There's a whole library of statutes and general case law in the US, UK, Australia, NZ, Canada, and elsewhere that makes it clear contractors and employees are only given permission to use assets and resources for the purposes relevant to the work they're hired to do and have no right to use them for any other purpose or at any other time. There's another whole body of law that makes the contractor or employee liable for personal criminal conviction if they use those resources to commit any crime, including planning or preparing for one. One of the crimes they also charged him with was soliciting as he used the computer to solicit the services of a prostitute. This is clearly a violation of the permitted or authorised use, as was the accessing web sites he shouldn't have been visiting during work time. Thus, he's clearly in violation of that law, be the application deemed reasonable by you or not. Two sets of courts didn't find the use of the law unreasonable in this case. Thus, the law, as written, is appropriate to apply. And that's what I said. The fact that many people, including me, think the law is badly written and can be improved is totally irrelevant to its application to this case in the manner it has been. I know how all this stuff works as I spent way too many hours studying laws and how they apply to situations in the state police force and a range of other government departments responsible for the enforcement of various laws. Whenever I found a law as badly written as this one is, I put in a recommendation to have it changed and suggested a better wording, but I still have to apply it has written until that happens. Heck, you want a stupid law. My state, New South Wales, is the only place I know of in the world where a story describing, graphically or not, sexual activity involving a person under sixteen as the felony of child sexual abuse. Even a cartoon that is clearly not of real people constitutes such a charge if, in the opinion of the judge, one of the characters appears to be under the age of sixteen. Legally stick characters would constitute a suitable image for the charge and the person would be dealt with the same as someone who raped a ten year old. Now that's sheer stupidity. Hell, someone I talk to on another board moved from this state to the next because of the law and complying with it was severely impairing his medical treatment. He's in his mid twenties and was sexually abused for many years as a child. The only times they made gains in improving his mental health was when the therapist was able to get him to discharge a lot of the angst etc. by writing down what happened to him during those years. When the laws were changed to their present form the therapist had to send the document interstate and organise him to be transferred interstate as that document would see them both imprisoned for child sexual abuse if found here, yet neither is doing anything really wrong.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

and the law quoted says it's not limited to hacking but covers anything to do with the use of the computer without proper approval for that use. Mr Wolf did use the computer without proper approval for that purpose. Should his actual level of misuse be a felony, that's a different question and goes directly to the reason for the law and the quality of the law makers - on this issue I can only say "Read the local laws and be sure."

AV .
AV .

Thats the difference. Its still stealing time from the company though. I work in a law firm and see cases like this alot lately. The last one resulted in a million dollar settlement in favor of the plaintiff. A company employee discovered porn on another person's company PC. The company didn't sufficiently discipline the employee (he was not fired), so she sued the company for pain and suffering and won. Hostile work environment = employer gets sued for lots of $$$. I think Mr. Wolf shouldn't be in jail, but I can't believe he didn't know thats a HUGE no-no at work. AV

aandains
aandains

"As a result of the investigation, Appellant was indicted by the Richland County Grand Jury on one count of theft in office, with a specification that the value of the property or services stolen was more than $500 and less than $5000, in violation of R.C. 2921.41(A)(2), a fourth degree felony; one count of unauthorized access to a computer, with a specification that the value of the property or services stolen was more than $500 and less than $5000, in violation of R.C. 2913.04(B), a fifth degree felony; one count of unauthorized use of property, in violation of R.C. 2913.04(A), a fourth degree misdemeanor; and one count of solicitation, in violation of R.C. 2907.24(A), a third degree misdemeanor." The felonies were due to the defendant "stealing" $500-$5000 of the Cities money. Not because of hacking, but because he in essence stole that money in the process of violating the law. If he only did it for say, 10 hours, it wouldn't have been a felony. I don't need to read misinformation about misinformation when its clearly stated in the actual legal documents.

mattschmatt
mattschmatt

It's obvious that the creators of the law either did not consider this scenario or they did and figured it would be applied judiciously by a judge. NOT! What has happened to common sense? This reminds me of the school "No Tolerance" creed where common sense is overruled by strict interpretation of the rule. Little Susie brought a toothpick to school? Weapon! Expel her! If the judge and manager want to apply a strict interpretation of "beyond the scope", then I guarantee you that if they were to audit every worker there they could find a reason to fire and criminally charge 95% of all workers. This sets a dangerous precedent that may seem funny to laugh at now but you won't be laughing when the unintended consequences snare you. I'm glad he is fighting back and we should all hope he wins.

dirtylaundry
dirtylaundry

ty notsochiguy! - first post to make me guffaw but in a good way :D

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

one is the misuse of the computer and the second is where he was working at the time. In most states etc any misuse of government property is handed to the police and they then carry the ball. In private enterprise you can decide if you want to bring the police in or not. When I worked for the air force we had someone obtain a few things on their corporate credit card for personal use. In private enterprise they'd have been spoken to, billed for the items plus a handling fee, and may have had the card taken off them. In the air force we had no choice but to call the police in and they did a fraud investigation. luckily for the person the prosecutor chose not to lay charges if the Base Commander dished out some Administrative Punishment within a week of the final report being prepared by the police. His attitude was that such action would be double jeopardy and not worth the trouble. The Base Commander came on board and the serviceman got well reamed and no weekends for a loong time. That's the difference to the case the second aspect makes. In regards to the first aspect, I once worked at a place where stuff walked out the factory door in job lots. Those caught were fired. The management decided it was enough and the next one case found got the lot, police, court, charges of theft. No change in crime, just change in management attitude to it. It may or may not have been a factor in this case. The employer aspect was clearly a factor in this case. Why the prosecutor took the line they did is beyond me. But the wording of the law is slack and the charges were within the wording of the law, even if it can be argued that wasn't the intent when it was drafted; it's the way it's worded. And that brings in the third aspect, the actual law they're charged under. many things can vary about what constitutes evidence and a proven charge depending upon the legislation used. Remember what happened to OJ Simpson - under criminal law he was innocent, but under civil law he was found guilty - two different structures. And they still HAVEN'T PROVEN he killed her, just that on BALANCE OF PROBABILITY they THINK he did. Wolfe got a raw deal, but within the law. he knew he should be doing that on the computer, he just underestimated what could happen to him if caught. I bet many people in that state have cleaned their computers and are being very careful about what they do on them now.

herlizness
herlizness

> One of the interesting things about all of this is that I can't even count the number of cases in which I've seen intentional destruction of prejudicial emails, emails related to price-fixing, conspiring to defraud clients or competitors, etc and so on. People admit this stuff in depositions all the time. I've never seen one of them fired or suspended for unlawful use of a computer, much less criminally prosecuted. So I think the REAL rule is that you can do whatever you want with your own computer at work so long as it has nothing to do with genitals.

SumDawgy
SumDawgy

Hold ON! Insanity? Did he get a truly raw deal? No he got as much attention and investigation as any other public offical. (President, senator, conrgessman, white house staffer, etc) Besides, His first trial was a JURY TRIAL. It wasn't a case of just one judge deciding his guilt. If he'd been in private employ, It might have been able to been handled quietly. But as a civil servant, the rules are not what you're used to!!! The State Police/FBI handle ALL investigations then! Do not pass go, do not avoid court. Instant criminal. Yeah that bites, but it's the price you pay for that type of job. I gotta tell you, stop feeling that sorry for him. (He's no posterboy for PORN/FREEDOM rights.) You didn't make him stand on a land mine. He had to sign paper after paper to get his job. Many of them warning & informing him that rules violations in THAT workplace ARE a CRIME. No ifs ands or butts. Not private employment. Doesn't stop ALL people in goverment from cheating or lying but, DOES CLARIFY what happens when you get CAUGHT! His lawyer argued that if he'd been looking at cat's riding on roombas...He probably woulda gotten a slap on the wrist. (Big help that....) So, if the material involved breaking a "morality" clause. Then that would affect his uprightness as a civil servant. Having a govt employee that occasionally visits strip clubs & the like... (Or, If he's a busy man, [like say...a president?] has secretaries preform for them with cigars.....) Is a far cry indeed from that same man (or woman..immorality clauses don't discriminate) addicted to the same material to the point they can be: bribed or blackmailed. (His Defense brought that up....Was he trying to help the prosecution or what?) A certain cigar wielding president was faced with such a blackmail for a similar "INNOCENT" activity that he "technically" didn't have to pay for. We all saw him pay for it later when he stood up to the blackmailer. But, this could've been a bigger problem if he'd caved and become a slave to his weakness. Who knows what he may have been made to do? Once he started caving...that demands could've gotten worse. Which is the point here. How far gone was this individual? How much of the public trust has he eroded? (Oh and don't bring him around MY daughters if you please. >I don't have daughters, just sons. But, that's not even the point now is it?< ) Faced with all of this porn, prostitution, (oh nevermind)... let's just say immoral behavior. Is not as innocent as you may say or think. Not when it can be used as a weapon against your system. Is everyone that straight laced? No. But THAT is the standard we hold against civil servants & leaders (publicly anyway). This guy just didn't know what he was.... Ignorance is bliss... Untill, reality T-boned him.... -dawgy

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

I don't know for sure about the Ohio courts, but down here the lower level criminal courts are required by their own rules to take a strict literal interpretation of the wording of the laws being used in the charges. The wording of the law is specific about authorised use. There are many other laws and case law about what is valid levels of authorisation for work purposes which have already set limits about use outside the 'the reason for which the equipment was intend to be used when supplied to the employee for use.' They make it clear anything beyond that is unauthorised. I've seen people charged for misdemeanours on the damage done to company property when items issued to them have been used outside of the 'purpose for which they were issued.' I think the reason we see a difference in the interpretation of the law is you see once he's been authorised for access that authority is a blanket authority, while I see it limited to the specifics of those required for work and anything outside of that is unauthorised use. Not all hackers come from outside the system. There's another case not so long back from the US where a guy was authorised to work on the city servers as his work was to maintain them. but he got in and played with some of the program and he was charged with the 'hacking' law for that state. The courts found his authority to access the servers was solely for the purposes of maintenance of them, not to do things with the software or databases on them. That was seen as outside his authority. And that's how I see this, and that's how I think the courts are seeing this too. I suppose Wolfe can always appeal to be heard by a judge and jury, and see what a jury of his peers think about it all. Regarding the old story about the lawyer, he was implying a problem about the capability of the judge in the case - if he'd said it outright he'd have been charged with contempt. I always wondered if that approach was really legal or he just got away with it because of who he was dealing with.

herlizness
herlizness

> you can always toss a charge or claim in a case where the evidence to support it is legally insufficient > well, we don't agree entirely here: I have no problem with the intent of the statute; you don't want people "breaking into" other computers ... like a bank's internal computers, or the CIA, or Pentagon, etc. That's the kind of "unauthorized use" sought to be prohibited and I think that's clear enough on the face of the statute The Ohio court ventured into an analysis and judgment of what or was not was beyond the implied scope of authorization; they simply did not need to go there given the text of the statute and it was particularly stupid to do so when the predicate was a very fuzzy and uncertain solicitation charge.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

legal right to dismiss the case as that may be different in Ohio to down here. And all along I've said the law wasn't good, just that it's been applied within the way the damn thing's written. It kind of reminds me about a funny story I heard years ago about a very good barrister in the 1950s/60s who abused a judge in his own court by preceding his comment with "If the law would allow it, I would say....." and he got away with it because technically he wasn't saying it.

herlizness
herlizness

well, you make some points there .. but let's face it, there's been all sorts of social insanity emerging over the past couple of decades (though I suspect we might not wholly agree on what is and isn't sane)

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

would then have the power to interpret the law in a saner manner. however, the wording and the interpretation of the law as evidenced so far is in line with a lot of legal activities that have been coming out of the US for several years now. This application is a lot more understandable than the way many of the school system Zero Policy laws on things like drugs have been used - shit, they suspend kids for having over the counter cough drops and letting a coughing classmate have one is seen as being a drug dealer. O r the girl strip searched because they thought she had a over the counter pain killer to deal with period pain on her. The law isn't reasonable as written, so why think it can be reasonably applied.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

activity as there's already a body of case law saying any criminal activity with corporate property is an unacceptable use, heck it's an unacceptable use for your own property, except you can give yourself permission to use it criminally.

herlizness
herlizness

As a lawyer for 20 years I can assure you that I don't need to learn that there's no such thing as a reasonable reading of the law .. there most certainly is and I don't think the Ohio courts are reading it reasonably. If you've read the appellate opinion in the case then you know that the court labored over the issue of solicitation but then came to the preposterous conclusion that the jury could reasonably conclude on the evidence that the defendant was soliciting sex. Yet, the evidence was clear that the mistress does NOT provide any form of sexual services and the state opted to put on any evidence as to the meaning of the relevant terms employed in the correspondence. Words count; there was no mention of sex and no indication at all that if the transaction were consummated that sex, as defined in Ohio law, was within the contemplation of the parties. And such would be the case even if the defendant ejaculated in the course of the "session" ... sexual touching must occur and there is nothing at all to indicate that such was requested or would be provided. Moreover, the court's suggestion that an officer's testimony as to the "usual meaning" of terms is not only repugnant to common sensibility, it's ridiculous in this context as there was no "experienced officer" providing testimony. The court is off the rails and reads on the facts in a manner which no court ever should. It's precisely the kind of judicial adventure you eschew in other parts of your reply. I am unpersuaded and hope Mr. Wolfe takes his case all the way to the SCOTUS if need be.

Scott Lowe
Scott Lowe

Bear in mind that the city did not yet have an AUP in place, so there was, therefore, no codified limit on what could/could not be done with the computer. That said, any reasonable person would agree that using the system to engage in illegal activity was clearly not intended in any regard. However, was the "hacking" charge because of the use of the computer in visiting adult sites or was it due to the solicitation that took place? If it was because he used the computer to visit adult sites, I would argue that the law CANNOT apply because of the lack of an AUP.

AV .
AV .

It is because of loose laws like Oz said. People with intent will always exploit those laws, and I'm not talking about the lawyers. Heres how they did it in this case. Its pretty slick. I know or have worked with all of the people involved in this case for several years. I was Net Admin for a law firm several years ago and the plaintiff's husband was a clerk there. I met the actual plaintiff several times at company events. She was nice enough. The defendant was an attorney at my firm that had a separate business on the side with about 10 people. The plaintiff worked for his small business and part of her job was to be a Net Admin for their computers. The plaintiff started complaining about one man's choice of wallpaper on his computer. It was a funny picture of 2 men with paddles doing . . . something like that. No nudity, maybe on the order of Beavis and Butthead humor. She asked him to get rid of it and he wouldn't. The plaintiff delved more into the guys PC after that and found real porn. She was the Net Admin. When she reported the guy again to the defendant, he did reprimand him and remove the porn, but he stopped short of firing him. That created a hostile work environment for her and she filed a lawsuit. Meantime, back in my office, the plaintiff's husband began snooping around the office for information to help his wife's case. It was very convenient because he worked as a clerk in the defendant's other office. There were about 60 people there. The defendant always printed out his emails, or had his secretary do it and sometimes it included internet joke emails from his friends that were a bit over the top. The defendant would eventually throw them in the trash or leave them by the printer. The plaintiff's husband scooped them up and they were used against the defendant in the case to discredit him. I became involved in the case because emails from a porn service for the defendant were caught in the spam filter. On his birthday! They needed him to confirm his order. As Net Admin, I had to ask and the defendant denied knowing about it. He was convinced that someone did it as a bad joke. I was able to obtain the ip address of the person who ordered it through the porn service, but the ISP wouldn't release the information without a court order. I gave the information to the defendant, but don't know the outcome of that. In the end, they settled in favor of the plaintiff for a cool million. Personally, I hope they spent it all on legal fees. Two grifters. PS: During the near end of the lawsuit, the plaintiff's husband accidentally injured himself carrying something down the stairs. He was collecting workman's compensation for at least a year from the company I worked for. Some people work the system and they get away with it. It might not be worth it in the end, but they do it anyway. Its not overbilling or underperforming, its doing something other than work. Time is money to a company and if you're shopping on that time and getting paid for it, thats stealing. AV

SumDawgy
SumDawgy

It automatically forced a police investigation. Anyways rather than retype the entire missive... drop down the discussion to my comment about him going right to court b4 a jury. -dawgy (This guy simply crispy fried himself.)

herlizness
herlizness

> writing laws is actually a difficult business ... consider an ordinary shoplifting/theft law: when is the offense committed? suppose you put something in your pocket for a moment so you can find your credit card or wipe your nose? or put it on top of items in another shopping bag so you can continue to look at other merchandise? or walk past the checkout to look at an item close to the door? suppose you step outside the door for a few seconds when you see a friend to ask her to come inside? you see the problem? ultimately we have to rely in part on the good sense of the police or the prosecutor ... and sometimes good sense is in scarce supply

herlizness
herlizness

> yeah ... I'm sure it was really painful to "discover porn" on someone else's computer. She must be scarred for life ... maybe descended into a major clinical depression. It should be worth several million in damages perhaps? good to see that employee's are running companies in the same way students are running the secondary schools and people wonder why the US is becoming less competitive ... > you can't "steal time" ... you can overbill, you can underperform ... but you can't steal time since nobody has a property interest in time

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

YOu see it as often as I do, these loose laws intended for one application are so broadly written that lawyers will apply them to anything. Initially laws aare written loosely to allow for the police ot have some leeway. The old, "we'll find a charge" is based on that. I've recently been flagging a lot of White Van scams, the guys who sell garbage speakers to people in mallparking lots as they they were high end products. they use som epretty aggressive tatcics but technically it is not illegal. BUT, a cop will still turn up and charge them with soliticing in a private place (a businesse's parkign lot), trespassing, not havign eth correct insurance to cover sales from arental behicle etc. There are a million LOOSE laws they can base judgement on OTHER than the actual act of selling junk to unsuspecting people. Hostile work environment, is an EXTREME stretch. HOW the pictures were storeed, viewed accessed should be key in such a case. What were plaintiff's access rights, how was he subjected to viewing them etc. Of course all of that is above and beyond any company usage policy that restricts such use of their equipment. I am sure that if they had reprimanded him accordingly, teh plaintiff woulld have no case left. The ocmpany's inaction was the issue, as you seem to also feel. GREY area, we really need ot write tighter laws instead of leaving so much wiggle room for the purpose of strengthening the prosecutions ability to press senseless charges.