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How Do You Punish a 16-year-old Spammer? 346

Posted by timothy
from the with-a-nice-slow-cooked-long-pig-roast dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A 16 year old 'Boy Spammer', David Lennon, has been told by a judge that as punishment for his crimes he can't leave his bedroom for two months during curfew. CNET thinks this is no punishment at all: "With the streets awash with axe murderers, terrorists and paedophiles, staying in and playing games seems like a reasonable response. Given that our kids are growing up as stay-in gamers, the Boy Spammer's curfew is no more punishment for the blighter than sentencing a boy caught speeding to two months on a race track." Apparently Lennon used a piece of email bombing software called Avalanche to wreak revenge on his ex-employer, Domestic and General Group. His five million emails contained the message "You will die in seven days.""
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How Do You Punish a 16-year-old Spammer?

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  • *snort* (Score:3, Funny)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:13PM (#15970478) Homepage Journal
    Alternative punishment from TFA:

    Lennon should be forced to use an iPod Shuffle filled with fantastic music that he is completely unable to identify on account of the absence of a display.He will then have to deal with the paradoxical conditions of being utterly cool (having an iPod-branded player) and being utterly ignorant (having no idea what is playing). He will, in short, learn what it is like to be Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    Diabolical!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by portmapper (991533)
      > He will, in short, learn what it is like to be Arnold Schwarzenegger.

      Oh my God! The next Governor of California will be a 16 year old spammer?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by FatMacDaddy (878246)
        The worst part is we'd probably be better off with a 16 year old spammer than we are with Ahnold.
        • Re:*snort* (Score:4, Funny)

          by creimer (824291) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:54PM (#15970985) Homepage
          We seen this before. Ahnold goes back into the past to kill the mother to eliminate the competition. It's a vicious cycle that never ends.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Half a line of lyrics in google is sufficient to find the track name and artist.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by gronne (704694)
      I was gonna say he should be dropped on an island with only an iPod filled with Barry Manilow songs.
  • by suso (153703) * on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:13PM (#15970480) Homepage Journal
    See, this spam worked because about 200 of the people received it did die in 7 days. Its always that small percentage of people responding to the spam that keeps the spammers going. Damn those people.

    [moderators: this is supposed to be funny]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by WilliamSChips (793741)
      So the solution to spam is to get people to not die in seven days?
    • by Tackhead (54550)
      > See, this spam worked because about 200 of the people received it did die in 7 days. Its always that small percentage of people responding to the spam that keeps the spammers going. Damn those people.

      And that should be his punishment. He should be forced to use his product. In other words, the judge should have ordered him to die... and the method used should require seven days to complete.

      And just so we're clear here, by "should require seven days to complete", I'm thinking "acetominophen overd

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by diersing (679767)
        With 80% of today's traffic being spam, a better punishment might have been a requirement to have only one email account not use any spam filtering for the term of 10 years. I'm thinking an AOL account with Outlook Express might be in order just to rub it in.
    • Reminds me of the "I love you" virus, and all the idio... erm... computer-illiterate people who opened it because they genuinely thought that their boss/secretary/whole-fucking-department sent them a genuine love declaration. Or all the viruses that get opened because someone really thought that their long lost cousin Amir N'gbendu from Nigeria sent them a porn-video/incredible-investment-opportunity-spre a dsheets/whatever. Conveniently packed in an .exe file. It must be a self-extracting zip, really. Would
    • by Otter (3800)
      [moderators: this is supposed to be funny]

      The CNET column is also (with questionable success) supposed to be funny, and that doesn't seem to have dissuaded anyone. I look forward to seeing your point discussed in the Math section tomorrow. (Will you decline the Fields Medal if they offer it to you?)

  • Community service (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:13PM (#15970485) Homepage Journal
    Tell a 16 year old to stay in the bedroom? Well hey, don't throw me in the briar patch!

    No, what this kid should be doing is community service. Work in a soup kitchen, pick up garbage by the side of the road, help out his common man by distributing clothes in an inner city, something like that. In addition, I'd like to see him have all private computer access restricted (can only use a computer in the presence of an adult until he demonstrates he can act like an adult) and to undergo some sort of therapy to deal with his anti-social mores as sending out emails saying "you will die in seven days" is pretty sick. This is not punishment per se, however. I see it more as societal rehabilitation.

  • by zyl0x (987342) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:14PM (#15970490)
    ..but video games were still around when I was a kid. Being grounded to my room included the removal of anything that I could enjoy doing. I don't understand why they don't just take his computer away..
    • ..but video games were still around when I was a kid. Being grounded to my room included the removal of anything that I could enjoy doing. I don't understand why they don't just take his computer away..

      When I was a kid, what I enjoyed was books. Since my parents couldn't bring themselves to stop me from reading, they really couldn't punish me by sending me to my room. Even if kids don't like reading, I sure they could find something fun in their rooms to do, so I never really understood that punishment.

  • by ConsumerOfMany (942944) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:15PM (#15970504)
    Make him write out each email he sent on a blackboard, all 5 million of them.
  • - Make him consume everything he was selling/trying to sell
    - Forced community service fixing virus-laden windows boxes
    - Public flogging
    - Format every disk/hard drive/CD he owns
    - Break his fingers

    And that's just off the top of my head. How easy is that?
    • Re:easy punishment (Score:4, Informative)

      by milamber3 (173273) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:26PM (#15970655)
      If you RTFA or even the summary instead of just the headline you would see he was not really spamming in the sense you are talking about. He email bombed someone for revenge. Seems more akin to a DoS attack on the email server than spamming.
      • by fm6 (162816)
        Hey, it's not a big stretch to assume that a headline that says "Spammer" is about somebody who sends spam. Mail bombing is a completely different realm of assholedom. CNET should be less sloppy. And the Slashdot editors should pass though stupid headlines unchecked.
    • by OakDragon (885217)
      "Nail 'im up, I say! Nail some sense into 'im!!"
  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:19PM (#15970555)
    How about:

    He's allowed to have only one e-mail address for the rest of his life, which has no spam filtering. This e-mail address is provided to everyone he spammed, who are encouraged to sign him up for whatever mailing lists they choose.
  • Not spam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by skraps (650379) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:19PM (#15970559)

    Sending "you will die in seven days" millions of times to your ex-employer does not qualify as spamming in my book. He wasn't sending advertisements. He wasn't collecting personal information to resell. He wasn't doing anything that typically qualifies as spamming.

    This is just plain old harassment, and the punishment sounds fine.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by oliverthered (187439)
      Not only that but he got off at the first trial because the email system was designed to recieve email so he didn't break into the system or misuse it.

      There was an appeal against this descision to which he plead guilty. (Quite why he did so I can't even begin to guess)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jfengel (409917)
      And most importantly, he was sending it to just one person. To be spam in my book it's got to be sent to a lot of different people without trying to target your audience.

      So I concur with you: he's still an asshole, just not a spamming-asshole. Being sent to his room (without even depriving him of supper) may be a tad weak for an attack which had at least the potential to do economic harm, as well as containing an tone of violent threat, but it doesn't merit the sort if massive ire that true spammers have ea
    • Death Threats? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by phorm (591458) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:56PM (#15970995) Journal
      Actually, this sounds like a death threat to me. Aren't there special punishments for things along those lines?
    • This is just plain old harassment, and the punishment sounds fine.
      Or it's making terroristic threats, if it's an election year and the DA is trailing in the polls.

      "Go to your room" isn't much of a punishment for an introvert. Never worked on me, anyway. So Mom threatened to take all my books away for a month instead. That scared me straight, believe me.

      The judge should have made him go do something outdoors instead.

    • I confidently suspect if you were his former employer and received millions of e-mails from this young lad, you would be just as adamant that this unsolicited bulk emailing, in every view of the defintion and understanding of spam (not limited to just the parameters you listed), would qualify as such.
    • Exactly. Sending a bunch of email to one person is known as "email bombing". Another trick along the same lines is to sign someone up to thousands of mailing lists. Of course that was mostly popular before verification was routinely done. Once you're on a few thousand mailing lists, your email address is pretty much f*ed.

      Man that brings back memories. Back before the Internet was criminalized. It was just a bunch of smart kids going through a phase that was pretty much the equivalent of wreaking havoc wi
    • by Espectr0 (577637)
      He wasn't doing anything that typically qualifies as spamming.

      From wikipedia:

      Spamming is the abuse of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited, bulk messages.

      Sending "you will die" mails in bulk, unsolicited, is spam.
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:20PM (#15970568) Homepage Journal
    If you actually want to PUNISH the kid, not to 'rehabilatate' him, then do something evil and disgusting. Like get all those people, who received his emails into a building, bring in the kid and then let every single person in that building to spend some time with him one on one with no rules at all. They could do anything they wanted without any consequences. That'll be a punishment.

    If you want to rehabilitate him, this one I don't know much about, I only know how to do evil and disgusting stuff.
    --
    • by milamber3 (173273)
      You sir, sound like one of the axe murderers, terrorists and paedophiles that the article mentions the streets are awash with.
      • by roman_mir (125474)
        muhaha! I said no rules for everyone, hopefully some of those people will take it to the necessary logical steps to make sure that this kind of a condition is properly utilized.
  • by mccalli (323026) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:20PM (#15970572) Homepage
    he can't leave his bedroom for two months during curfew.

    Err...where's his computer located?

    Cheers,
    Ian

  • I remembered: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xtracto (837672) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:25PM (#15970630) Journal
    Bernie was talking to his friend Jack about his rebellious son Yossi. "When I was a youngster and did something wrong, my parents punished me by sending me to my bedroom without supper. I hated it. But our Yossi has his own colour TV, phone, computer and DVD player in his bedroom so we can't do that - it wouldn't be much of a punishment."
    "So what do you do, then?" asked Jack.
    "We send him up to our bedroom without supper!



    When I was younger (on secondary and high school) my parents sometimes used to punish me sending me to my bedroom. Unfortunately the home PC was *in my bedroom* so I just made a sad face and went up there, turned on the computer and started programming for aaaaaaaall the rest of the day :) great days where those =op

    Oh, and the mentioned text was from here [awordinyoureye.com]. I just remembered the passage but the page is the first that came on google :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RingDev (879105)
      And thus the reason as a father now I have a very strict no-PCs, laptops, or TVs in bedrooms rule. That PC is going to continue to sit in the dinning room with the monitor positioned so that it can be seen from the kitchen, dinning room, and living room.

      -Rick
  • With the streets awash with axe murderers, terrorists and paedophiles, staying in and playing games seems like a reasonable response

    So why not stick him in a nice safe jail cell? All the real criminals are either on the streets or locked in their bedrooms.

    Seriously, they should take a page (just one) from Kevin Mitnick's terms of rehabilitation and take away his internet access for a year or two. If he's an ordinary teen that's a punishment worse than death.
  • He should spend one hour in jail for every spam message he sent.
  • by creimer (824291) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:27PM (#15970662) Homepage
    Working at McDonald's.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... kill him in seven days.
  • Wrong bedroom (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Old VMS Junkie (739626) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:28PM (#15970681)
    They should make him stay in his parent's bedroom. Punish the kid for being a dope And punish his parents for raising an ignorant twerp.
  • 16? Nope. (Score:2, Informative)

    by no.17 (997011)
    He's electronically tagged, although the curfew times are a joke- 12.30-7.30am weekdays and 13.30-10.00 on weekends. When the little blighter will be alseep...he's a teenager for crying out loud!

    Oh and he is not 16, he was 18 (here [cio.com], and here [silicon.com]) but is now 19 (here [irishdev.com]).

    He has been named and located [irishdev.com] though ....so any really irate ex-work buddies dont have far to look...
  • "With the streets awash with axe murderers, terrorists and paedophiles,"

    What a ridiculous and more to the point, extremely irresponsible statement!

    I wish media companies such as cnet had to help pay the medical insurance costs for all the millions of obese kids who have become that way because their parents were too terrified to let them outside for fear of all these boogeymen.

    It's digusting that when the biggest killer in our country is heart disease, the best cure for this disease (exercise) is discourage
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      Media companies are meant to inform on the truth

      They did. It was successfully apprehended a while back.

  • by monopole (44023) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:31PM (#15970724)
    He'd be facing federal charges, and a civil suit that would ruin him financially. But since he's a spammer who does real and quantifible damage to productivity, as well as making e-mail increasingly less viable he gets a slap on the wrist.
  • by RagingFuryBlack (956453) <(NjRef511) (at) (gmail.com)> on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:32PM (#15970726) Homepage
    What this kid did wasn't spam. He wasn't selling anything, wasn't soliciting personal information. He was harassing a former employer because for some reason he had a bone to pick with them. He tried to DoS their mail servers with death threats. If anything, this kid should be charged as a vandal and fined for the dammage and man-hours that it took to unclog the mail server and clear the accounts, as well as some well deserved community service either clearing royally screwed windows PCs of ad/spyware/viri from public PCs or by physically hard labor.
  • Make him eat 5 cans of S.P.A.M. everyday for a year.
    • by hcob$ (766699)
      Good Plan! Make him fat, greasy, and full of achne. Then he will be scorned at school for being different... Oh, I guess all this amounts to is he'll be eating too much processed meat.... Well, damn it.... That won't change a thing!
  • Each person who received the email should give the boy a swift kick in the a**; I think a few million boots to the bum would help him remember the lesson.

  • by bilbravo (763359) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:35PM (#15970774) Homepage
    Am I the only person here who thinks sending an e-mail message saying "You will all die in seven days" needs to get the kid a little more than 2 months? Maybe he's not a psycho, but still. That's not something you just send out and get a slap on the wrist for. Granted, this isn't a punishment per se, but he needs to see some consequence for his action.
    • by AriaStar (964558)
      I was just about to post this. If it were just something annoying, like porn ads, that's one thing. But that he wrote about death indicates possible mental illness. He needs a mental evaluation. Hell, it's possible he was planning to kill his former boss and have it look mysterious. Millions of e-mails, dead boss, great case for the 10 o'clock news!
  • I'll tell ya what, when that little snot got caned many years back, I was cheering it.

    That's what we need in this country; Extremely painful punishment for kids in the justice system. Jr got caught tagging a freeway sign? Cane'em. Little shit spams death threats? Cane'em.

  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:41PM (#15970828)
    I think parents need to start being held accountable for their child's misbehaviour. This way the dilemma of how to punish the child is avoided and the source of the problem is addressed.

    Given what I've seen, I have to say the single largest reason why kids are so screwed up is because of bad parenting.
  • "How do you punch a 16-year old spammer."
  • As far as I can see, what he did was a DoS, not spamming. He didn't attempt to make any sort of income from sending unsolicited emails, he just bombarded one mail server with 5 million emails.
  • by Churla (936633)
    I would have opted for "You are under house arrest in a house with no television, video, gaming or computer devices until such a time as you have hand written an apology to each of the mail recipients."

    But I'm a draconian Chapeau D'âne
  • How do you punish a spammer? Well, you're right, it is a tough choice. On one hand, you have corporal punishment. On the other, capital. Tough decision.
  • And have her spank him like the bad boy that he....... ohh... wait... wrong forum
  • I'm a pretty big fan of corporeal punishment by the government, with appropriate moderation and for appropriate crimes. It's immediate, and only really messed-up people like it. I'm thinking that for this kid, probably a caning would be appropriate. And no, I do NOT consider it cruel and unusual punishment. All punishment is intended to cause mental suffering - why should arriving at that ends through physical means be considered any more off limits than arriving at it through prison, community service,
  • I guess it really depends on how severe his spamming was. But I wouldn't let anyone just go if it was a serious issue. A crime is a crime... even if it's something as simple as that. And I know, there are far worse crimes in the world, but there are also far worse punishments for those bad crimes. I'm sure they could find something minor that would not make him do it again.
  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:59PM (#15971033) Homepage
    "Apparently Lennon used a piece of email bombing software called Avalanche to pummel his ex-employer, [...]"
    As usual, the quality of journalism leaves much to be desired. While they correctly identify the actions of the teen in the above quote they quite erroneously refer to his actions as spamming in the title and the first half of the article. He didn't SPAM anyone ... he E-Mail bombed his employer.

    What we really need is sanctions against incompetant and irresponsible journalism. The average joe doesn't have a chance of ever getting a clue, since they are constantly being misinformed by the media. This is the number 1 reason why people still use Windows IMNSHO. They don't know any better because they get their understanding of the issues from clueless "journalists".

    As far as the "punishment" for this kid, he shouldn't get any. What he needs is reform . So long as the US mob mentality supports a punishment paradigm over a reform one, US society as a whole is doomed. This holds especially true when the offender in question is a teenager. People ... the US incarcerates a ridiculously large portion of its populace. We could learn from others - for example how Amsterdam/the Netherlands handles drug and prostitution issues - but we don't. As a society, the US is a conglomeration of arrogant, ignorant morons, who clearly embrace their ignorance. Even here on Slashdot, where I would expect a large percentage of the people to be more enlightened (for some naive reason), I am blown away by the high percentage of people who have absolutely no grasp of this simple concept. So many people so proud of their ignorance. It is a sad phenomenon indeed. A truly competant journalist would understand this, and would be complaining that the judges in this country are failing US miserably, simply because they fail to grasp the simple concept: reform good; punishment bad. Bad Judges!

    I guess only one question remains ... how should we punish these incompetant judges and journalists? 8-}

    ... and in anticipation of the ignorant moron who will claim I contradicted myself ... ((sanctions == reform) != punishment);
  • by Bender0x7D1 (536254) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @01:00PM (#15971040)
    Make him hand-write one copy of the email for each email that got sent.

    If you want to be mean, make him write out the headers as well.
  • by Petersko (564140) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @01:03PM (#15971076)
    Simple. Do the opposite of locking him in his room.

    Make him attend a minimum of three raging parties per week, each one primarily populated by jocks and hotties.

    If he's 18 and spamming people, he does not have the social skills necessary to do well in such an environment. He'll cry for the warmth and security of his home, but he should be forced to stay until the last jock has wedgie'd him.
  • Kill him while he sleeps? /right?

  • he can't leave his bedroom for two months during curfew

    I was punished that way as well (6 months in a stretch). Didn't have any electricity either. Had to read books by the light of the moon. I read a lot though.

  • 1. He can not use or own any electronic equipment connected to the internet
    2. Repay any damages to his victums. Damages includes cost of removal of spam.
    3. Volunteer as a spam watcher for an ISP for 6 months.

    These are actually legal punishments. Spammer can be held liable for costs of removing the spam.
  • Perfect punishment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShadyG (197269) <bgraymusic AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 24, 2006 @01:15PM (#15971192) Homepage
    It seems to me that this guy is going to receive a punishment much worse than staying in his room for 2 months. His name is on the Internet, attached to the information that he sought revenge against an ex-employer. Wow. Good luck with that whole "rest of your career" thing you thought you had.
  • I am reminded of a technical conference I attened many years ago. The subject of one panel was "Writing RSX11 Device Drivers". Many of the leading lights in this niche of the industry were on the panel, including one of the all time greats, Ralph Stamerjohn. During the audience Q&A, one of the audience members asked the question "What should you do with new RSX11m driver developers". One of the DEC people on the panel started to answer. Ralph, a famous curmudgeon, grabbed the mike and answered "Take t
  • by nightsweat (604367) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @01:18PM (#15971222)
    Tape his hands together and hide all the lotion and kleenex.
  • What's the problem? (Score:3, Informative)

    by FishandChips (695645) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @01:28PM (#15971316) Journal
    This is England. The "judge" would have been a lay magistrate, just a member of the public with special training. Not, anyway, a professional lawyer who would probably have had to ask "What is the internet?", assuming the hearing was held before lunch and therefore that the "judge" was still relatively sober.

    The apparent leniency of this sentence might have something to do with the aggrieved party, a large company, initially demanding 29,000 pounds in compensation from a sixteen-year-old boy, not a very nice or proportionate thing to do. This demand by the prosecution was dropped during the trial. It's possible that the magistrates were showing that bullying of this kind is not on, in England, and that if this company's mail servers could be so easily knocked over by a sixteen year-old, they couldn't have been much good in the first place.

    Computer specialists might object to the idea, but lay magistrates are partly there to reflect public opinion, and public opinion doesn't hold computers in very high regard.
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @01:37PM (#15971393) Homepage
    "We don't need the death penalty. We've got the tossed salad man. Shit, if I had a choice right now between the electric chair and tossing a salad - I'd be like, 'so where do you plug it in? shouldn't I be wet?'

    Everyone's talking about public education. Kids are outta control. We need tougher rules. We need prayer in schools. We don't need that shit. We just need the tossed salad man. He'd straighten those kids out. Hey, Jimmy. You got a D. You know what that means. NOOOO! NOOOO! I don't wanna toss a salad! I don't wanna toss a salad! I'm gonna read! I'm gonna learn to read"
    -- Chris Rock
  • if.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by josepha48 (13953) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @01:43PM (#15971452) Journal
    .. a 16 year old can be sentanced to death or life in prison, they I think that a 16 year old can be sentanced to what an adult spammer would be sentanced to... staying in his room with his video games and probably a computer is not really a punishment, considering that's probably where he sent all the spam from in the first place...
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @01:47PM (#15971490) Homepage

    A few years ago, I got a student's misdirected message that said "I am going to kill you tonight". I received this because I own a domain in ".com" that's the same as a boarding school in ".co.uk", and some of the teenagers there haven't figured out the domain name system yet. This was shortly after Columbine, so it seemed important to do something. So I called up the school, after some difficulty got someone there after hours, and read them the message. They weren't too worried, explaining to me that it was a 13 year old sending the message.

    In the US, a SWAT team would have been sent.

  • by queenb**ch (446380) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @07:24PM (#15974419) Homepage Journal
    1. Take away his electronics - computers, cell phones, Gameboy, PS2, etc.
    2. Incarcarate him if he's caught using any electronic device.
    3. Make him make restitution to both the ISP's and the recipients of his missives. He has to work to pay for the bandwidth that he used up.
    4. He has to write, by hand (no electronic devices) apology letters to each recipient of one of his messages. Then he has to look up the address of each person, by hand and address the envelopes. Then he has to pay for the stamps and mail them.

    2 cents,

    QueenB

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