Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Email Bomber Faces Retrial 106

An anonymous reader writes "A UK teenager who was cleared last year of launching a denial-of-service attack now faces a retrial. Judges have ruled that crashing a server with five million emails probably isn't permitted under the law. With NASA hacker Gary McKinnon vowing to fight on after losing his extradition fight yesterday, it's been a busy few days for the UK courts."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Email Bomber Faces Retrial

Comments Filter:
  • by Orrin Bloquy ( 898571 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:16PM (#15313600) Journal
    T/\lly H0! Av01d y0ur ch3m15t's f0r ch33p laudanum!
  • by Mydron ( 456525 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:22PM (#15313651)
    it's been a busy few days for the UK courts

    Yes, I'm sure they had nothing to do before these guys came along.
    • You must be one of those ignorant Americans. Don't you know that the UK only ever has two types of criminals? Those who hack into US military servers and those who blow up servers with emails?
  • named for being 18 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kaenneth ( 82978 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:24PM (#15313665) Homepage Journal
    Why can they now name him?

    I thought the general principle under which juvinile records are sealed is to protect someone from being punished for life for a childhood mistake.
    • I thought the general principle under which juvinile records are sealed is to protect someone from being punished for life for a childhood mistake.

      Juviniles enjoy enourmous privilage under the law. They are effectively exempt from all but the most grevious of crimes. They will often literally have to kill one, possibly two people before they are given a serious sentance. Even then, the killings will have to be in cold blood, not in a fracas or the like, and the victims will probably have to be "innocents" of some kind rather than society's persona non grata.

      To answer you question, if he were put on trial as a juvinile, he may have stood trial, and might even be convicted, but his sentance would be extremely lienient. It's probable he would have faced a small fine and perhaps a week or two of community service, if that.

      However, having been visited by the wonderous Majority Fairy at the stroke of midnight on his 18th birthday, his juvinile privilages, exemptions, and get out of jail free cards have been revoked along with, presumably; his sexual innocence, mental incompetance and intolerance for alcohol. He is now fair game for the full weight of the law to be set on his shoulders as an example to all. A five year sentance is not out of the question, a step up from five weeks visting old folks homes to be sure.
      • I dunno about the US, but the age after which you are considered fully responsible for your actions and can be go to jail (Although usually a young offenders institute) in the UK is 14, not 18.
        • Its different everywhere, here in Denmark where I live its 15. It appears that where that boy lives, it is 18...
        • The US doesn't seem to have a set age (though it should). It will vary with severity of the crime and how the legal system feels like treating you at the time. IIRC, people as young as 12 have been tried as adults here.

          Personally, I don't know for sure what the minimum age should be, but I can wholeheartedly say that the age of sexual consent, voting age, drafting age, driving age, drinking age, smoking age, and age at which you can be tried as an adult should ALL be the same value.
  • by HotNeedleOfInquiry ( 598897 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:24PM (#15313667)
    I thought the European Commission on Human Rights protected against double jeopardy. And no, Alex, I won't take Brussels for $200.
    • Re:Double Jeopardy (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lewisham ( 239493 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:48PM (#15313816)
      In the UK, you can be retried for the same offence if there is "new and compelling evidence" (usually DNA samples), or if the case was never fully closed, as here. The CPS appealed the case after the ruling, saying that the magistrate read the law wrongly, which sends it up the chain for review. If High Court had said, "Nah, it was a fair call", then the case would be closed and he could no longer be tried again. However, the High Court has sent it back for further review. IANAL so I don't know why the High Court itself doesn't make the decision, and I don't know what happens if the magistrate decides the same way again.

      Such stuff happens infrequently, but is sometimes reported on the news.
    • I just quickly scanned through the Convention. I see nothing about double jeopardy.
    • If that buys me better copyright laws... Ok, more like $200k.
    • My reading is that this isn't double jeopardy (and isn't taking advantage of the `new and compelling') clause in the recent CJA. Note to Americans: not all court systems work like yours.

      It appears that the original defence was that there was no case to answer, because a mailerserver implicitly authorises mail to be sent. No case to answer => no trial and no verdict. The Crown Prosecution Service appealed that ruling, a ruling made in a magistrate's court (ie with an essentially amateur judge) and t

    • First of all, note that what happened in this specific case can happen in the US too in civil matters: A magistrates decisions can generally be overturned by a district judge. The difference lies in criminal matters only.

      Even so, in criminal matters, the ability of an appeals court to refer a case back to a lower court is VERY restricted - generally it would apply to misapplications of the law where the appeals court decides to direct the lower court rather than make a full judgement itself.

      In any case,

  • So now we can't even send a small batch of 5 million emails without risking jail ? Pffffff. - Anonymous spammer
    • ... use that handy checkbox saying "Post Anonymously"
      • I didn't want to post anonymously, my post was a joke. It's surprising how hard it is to get modded funny on /., just check my history, about 50% of my supposedly funny posts are modded down because nobody get my humor :)
    • Slashdotting (and bringing it down) a site is illegal if you follow the same reasoning as the judge.

      "Judge Grant had said that Section 3 of the Act, which concerns unauthorised modification of data, had not been breached, as emails sent to a server configured to receive emails could not be classified as unauthorised.

      But on Thursday, judges at the Royal Courts of Justice sent the case back to the Magistrates Court, saying Judge Grant "was not right to state there was no case to answer". Mr Justice Jack said
  • Two cases a busy few days of UK courts? I don't think so.

  • Patella - the kneecap - means "little dish" - can you guess where I'm going with this?

    I'm guessing security at the gates won't let any of us in the US carry a baseball bat with us on board.

    Would one of you Britons be willing to give us a quick tour of the troublemakers' homes? (ala "Tour of Hollywood Stars' Homes)

    Oh, and how much would you charge us to bring a cricket bat along as well as idle the engine when we reach each house?

    If it worked in skating, I have a suspicion it might be effective in
  • Judges have ruled that crashing a server with five million emails probably isn't permitted under the law.
    So their saying crashing a server with five million hits is permitted. WOOT!
    • Well yes, and therein lies the rub. The law states, quite categorically, that you are misusing computer equipment if it is "unauthorised use". The problem is where you define "unauthorized". Most people take it to mean that unauthorised is doing anything that would anger/damage the person who owns the machine. This means that if you work as a sysadmin, and delete all the files on the network, despire the fact you had the *capability* to do it, you stepped over the boundary into *unauthorised* use, because d
  • Server crash!? That's a feature! - less spam for the day!
  • by spiritraveller ( 641174 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:48PM (#15313819)
    At least you know if you win the first trial, they don't get to do it over.
  • What if? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Zaphod2016 ( 971897 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:52PM (#15313855) Homepage

    I was working on a new cron tab the other day. It had been one of those 20-hour days, so I was already well-past "bobo mode" when I started. After a half an hour, I began to wonder where the hell all my confirmation emails were going....(er duh).

    I wasn't "spamming", I was setting up on a new server and tired. Luckily, the default sendto was a null addy, but *what if*? What if one day I accidentally run a cron tab, and mail bomb the shit out of some poor shmoe?

    Don't get me wrong: if I *did* ever do something so stupid, I would expect a civil lawsuit, and I would expect to lose. But is this really a criminal offense?

    • If you put up a porch poorly, and it falls and someone is injured, then you were negligent and it indeed can be a criminal offense. I don't see why running a server should be any different. As always the punishment should fit the crime, so a few hundred error messages (assuming high volume) that don't cost anyone probably wouldn't result in jail time :P
      • > If you put up a porch poorly, and it falls and someone is injured,
        > then you were negligent and it indeed can be a criminal offense.

        Only if the prosecution can show intent or criminal recklessness.

        > As always the punishment should fit the crime, so a few hundred
        > error messages (assuming high volume) that don't cost anyone
        > probably wouldn't result in jail time.

        The mistake postulated by the OP would not be a crime no matter how many messages were sent. No intent.
      • I don't see why running a server should be any different.

        Because it didn't fall from the rack and injure anybody.
    • Yes, this is a criminal offence (in the normal reading of the Act, I make a post further up about the different readings): it was unauthorised usage of the computer you mail-bombed, whether you meant to do it or not. You might get a lesser sentence if you can show it was just negligence rather than maliciousness.
    • Your example fails to take into account the simply concept of intent which makes any further discussion rather meaningless. But lets try anyways. first you didnt try to crash a server or cause disruptions like this person did. therefore a major element of most criminal law is nonexistant second, i doubt you would have screwed up soooo badly that it would equate to 5 million emails of traffic in a short amount of time. if anything they might notice a small problem and investigate it, alert you to knock it
    • Criminal laws (at least in the United States) require the specific intent to commit the crime. For instance, that's the difference between murder and manslaughter. In both cases, the defendant has killed someone, but the difference is what was going through their minds at the time they pulled the trigger. There are rare crimes where scienter is not required, such as causing the distribution of adulterated drugs into interstate commerce. In those situations, it does not matter what you intended to do--if you
    • It's the intent that distinguishes these actions.
    • Most mail servers have the ability to reject and deny any further messages from your *domain* when it detects a DOS attack. So... you'd probably only get fired.

    • I imagine you would explain what happened to prosecutors, they would decide if you are telling the truth, and if it was an honest mistake let you off. I can't speak for the UK (though I assume it is no different in the US) but police generally don't come down on people for complete accidents. When I was younger and just got my license I left the scene of an accident I was involved in. I left because the woman who had crashed into me said she had no insurance and said she would pay for it out of pocket.
  • what the hell (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tehwebguy ( 860335 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @10:00PM (#15314580) Homepage
    they can just have a retrial like that?

    man that is scary, i mean across the pond we have some seriously scary laws (esp since the patriot act) but if any case could just be re-tried because the gov thought maybe they were wrong i'd be terrified.
    • No, over here, they don't bother with trials - just send you to Gitmo or an illegal CIA jail and claim you're an "enemy combatant". Some people would welcome being re-tried. In fact, they'd probably cry with happiness if they were actually tried once ;)
    • Re:what the hell (Score:2, Informative)

      by myxiplx ( 906307 )
      Errr... wtf?!!

      It's not a case of a re-trial purely because the government think they're wrong. They appealed and a higher court looked at the case and said "Yup, you may have a point there", and sent it back to the lower court for re-trial. That same higher court could just have easily have said "Nope, they interpreted the law correctly, case closed.".
    • On that note I'd like to finally confess (and you don't know how good this feels) that I raped your grandmother. God, it feels so good to get it out. I feel like I just had a cathartic colonic and nothing can stop me now. BRAAAAP.
    • Re:what the hell (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shimbo ( 100005 )
      they can just have a retrial like that?

      They can appeal against a poor reading of the law in the lower court. I don't it find it particularly scary that someone who is incorrectly acquitted on technical grounds can face a retrial, if a higher court so orders.

  • what if a site gets slashdotted?
    is slashdot liable?
    is the poster liable?
    Are the people who visit the link liable?

    Mental Note: must post mirror links in articles to avoid liabilities :)

Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people. -- F.M. Hubbard