Teen Hacker Banned From The Internet For Six Years

from the that's-extreme dept

A teenaged hacker known as Cosmo the God, who was involved in a number of big site takedowns earlier this year, and who is considered a “social engineering mastermind” has been sentenced to probation. The terms include a ban on internet access until his 21st birthday, six years from now, according to a Wired article by Mat Honan. For many years, we’ve questioned whether or not it’s reasonable (or even practical) to ban people from the internet for computer related crimes. It seems not only stupid and counterproductive, but just plain bizarre. The internet is so integrated into our lives these days that taking the internet out of your life is a lot more complicated than some might imagine.

Can you still use a voice over IP phone system to make a phone call? What about using an internet-connected kiosk at a store to order something? The terms here seem particularly broad and overreaching — the kind of requirements that people who don’t really live on the internet would think are reasonable without realizing what they’re doing to him:


However, according to Cosmo, the terms of the plea place him on probation until his 21st birthday. During that time, he cannot use the internet without prior consent from his parole officer. Nor will he be allowed to use the Internet in an unsupervised manner, or for any purposes other than education-related ones. He is required to hand over all of his account logins and passwords. He must disclose in writing any devices that he has access to that have the capability to connect to a network. He is prohibited from having contact with any members or associates of UG Nazi or Anonymous, along with a specified list of other individuals. He had to forfeit all the computers and other items seized in the raid on his home. Also, according to Cosmo, violating any of these terms will result in a three-year prison term.

Since this is a plea bargain, it sounds like he’s accepted those terms, but it seems fairly crazy. Honan talks with an attorney who finds the situation ridiculous:


“Ostensibly they could have locked him up for three years straight and then released him on juvenile parole,” Jay Leiderman, a Los Angeles attorney who has represented alleged members of Anonymous and LulzSec, told Wired. “But to keep someone off the Internet for six years — that one term seems unduly harsh. You’re talking about a really bright, gifted kid in terms of all things Internet. And at some point after getting on the right path he could do some really good things. I feel that monitored Internet access for six years is a bit on the hefty side. It could sideline his whole life–his career path, his art, his skills. At some level it’s like taking away Mozart’s piano.”

Furthermore, we’ve seen numerous such internet bans tossed out for being rights violations. Sure, the guy broke the law, and should be punished for that. But banning him from the internet for six years seems to go way beyond what’s reasonable.

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Comments on “Teen Hacker Banned From The Internet For Six Years”

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73 Comments
That Anonymous Cowardsays:

Re: Re:

“damage he caused”
[CITATION NEEDED]

Or do you think that the fact corporations were outsmarted by a 15 yr old needs to be kept secret?

That the state of online security is so poor that a 15 yr old can cut through it like butter needs to be hidden away from public view?

Some kids were smarter than paid professionals, and the response is to demonize the kid and not the inherently sad state of online security. Cyber Pearl Habor and stories about secret hacking of stuff… and these are all possible not because of secret software and hardware backdoors… they are possible because of years of stupid policy and rules that fail to understand the concepts of the real world.

btr1701says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Some kids were smarter than paid professionals,
and the response is to demonize the kid and
not the inherently sad state of online security.

Two separate issues. Regardless of how shoddy the security was, it was still illegal for this kid to break into it and fuck around with someone else’s property.

Just because I put a weak lock on my front door doesn’t make the burglar any less culpable for breaking into my house and stealing my stuff.

This little shit needs to be ‘demonized’, if that’s what you want to call punishing a criminal for crime.

Having said that, I’ve never been a fan of ridiculously overbroad parole conditions. I’d like to know how the court defined ‘the internet’ in his parole terms, because, as Mike pointed out, it’s nearly impossible to avoid using the internet these days. The elevator in my office building works over an internet connection. Would this kid be violating his parole if he used it?

btr1701says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re:

You must be one of those so-called cyber->
security “professionals” who got his ass
pwned by that kid.

Yeah, that makes sense. You and logic aren’t even passing acquaintances, are you?

The kid committed a felony. The kid got caught. Since I don’t blame everyone but the kid for his crime and I do support him being punished for it, that absolutely means I must be an IT guy who got embarrassed by the little shit.

Riighhht…

/sarcasm

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

Until he realizes what that really means, than he will not be so happy he accepted that.

Basically people told him to not use his legs until his 21th birthday, he will need those legs at some point and he will break the law again for using them.

This is the kind of ruling that eventually leads to backlash and creation of new laws forbidding law enforcement from doing exactly that kind of thing.

Anonymoussays:

” he cannot use the internet without prior consent from his parole officer”

Well since a HUGE majority of businesses need you to apply for a job online with email or on the form on their web sites. Now he must ask for permission to look for work how great. Good thing the courts are looking to a future generation of homeless and jobless.

Banning people from the internet is not silly at all is it?

eggheadsays:

Re: Re:

I do believe that all credit/debit card transactions are handled through encrypted internet communications. Does this mean that he must turn over his debit card PIN as it is a “password” to an online account? Also, I suppose he can’t use a bank ATM without prior permission.

One caveat that I did see was the lifting of these restrictions for “education-related” uses. This could apply to pretty much everything. “I was simply learning about Wells Fargo’s online security systems.”

Tex Arcanasays:

Re: Re: Stupid.

These guys are idiots if they think they can keep him offline without duct-taping him to a tree in the middle of field miles away from any kind of wires.

He’s already back online: his handle is “Fluffy IS Zuul”, he’s already hacked the government computers and removed all traces of his conviction and trial, reduced his sentence to a $5 fine, and is already busy at work hacking banks and the CIA and making his nest egg.

printing724says:

No, that's not extreme...

“Cosmo” is a talented kid who committed fraud and a number of other crimes. Apparently the notion of right and wrong got lost in his upbringing.

This article acts like internet access is a constitutional right or a life essential act like breathing. It is not.

“Cosmo” committed crimes against other people and admitted to doing so. As part of the terms of a plea bargain, “Cosmo” agreed to certain conditions that kept him out of prison. If he fails to abide by those conditions, there’s a pretty good chance he will end up in the place he wanted to avoid.

The choice is his. No one is denying “Cosmo” access to the internet. He has voluntarily agreed to forgo it for a period of time to keep his freedom.

The internet and public roads have some basic concepts in common. They are public thoroughfares and the average citizen should have a right to be able to navigate them responsibly and without molestation.

“Cosmo” didn’t get that. He saw a busy thoroughfare with potential victims and took advantage of that. Now he has to pay for that abuse.

He agreed not to use the internet so he could stay out of prison. He is not a saint or a martyr.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: No, that's not extreme...

This article isn’t defending cosmo, as you seem to have misunderstood. It’s a critique of the punishment, which seems incredibly extreme in this day and age.

Without the internet, he’s going to suffer a lot more than missing out on Twitter and YouTube. He will have a very difficult time finding a job, and this ban from the internet will set him very far back in getting a good career in the future doing what he’s good at in an ethical way. He’d be an ideal candidate for being hired as an ethical hacker, but if he’s off the internet for six years, he’ll be miles behind anyone else applying for the job.

Internet bans are silly. They’re impractical and nearly impossible to enforce. ATMs, kiosks, registering for college, college classes themselves often require an online component now. Is the state going to assign him an officer to look over his shoulder for hours every day while he does his research and assignments? Fat chance. And before you say “just use the library” remember that our libraries are becoming more like blockbusters with no new releases.

Do you think it’s just to irreparably harm or even destroy a 15 year old’s chances to make a good living for the rest of his life? Because that seems unjust, and like a damned waste of great talent to me.

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re: No, that's not extreme...

This article acts like internet access is a constitutional right or a life essential act like breathing. It is not.

Courts have argued otherwise. So your claim of “it is not” is kinda silly, no?

“Cosmo” committed crimes against other people and admitted to doing so. As part of the terms of a plea bargain, “Cosmo” agreed to certain conditions that kept him out of prison. If he fails to abide by those conditions, there’s a pretty good chance he will end up in the place he wanted to avoid.

Yes. Did we say otherwise? We’re not defending him. Just calling into question the idiotic idea of a complete internet ban.

The choice is his. No one is denying “Cosmo” access to the internet. He has voluntarily agreed to forgo it for a period of time to keep his freedom.

An agreement made under duress is not “voluntary.”

The internet and public roads have some basic concepts in common. They are public thoroughfares and the average citizen should have a right to be able to navigate them responsibly and without molestation.

Comparison doesn’t work. First, the internet doesn’t require a “license.” So it’s entirely different than someone taking away a drivers license. Second, even if you lose your drivers license, you’re not banned from the roads.

“Cosmo” didn’t get that. He saw a busy thoroughfare with potential victims and took advantage of that. Now he has to pay for that abuse.

Again, no one said he was innocent or shouldn’t face punishment. It’s pretty sad that you assume that because he did some crime any punishment cannot be questioned. Next time you jaywalk, how about the death penalty? Obviously, you broke the law, now you pay for it with your life, right?

He agreed not to use the internet so he could stay out of prison. He is not a saint or a martyr.

Strawman. Who the fuck said he was a saint or a martyr.

Not an Electronic Rodentsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: No, that's not extreme...

Next time you jaywalk, how about the death penalty?

Little out of scale perhaps…. I was thinking something roughly equivalent like being banned from buying anything for 6 years as a punishment for shop lifting.
Much more reasonable, huh? I’m sure no-one would have an objection to that.. oh but wait, it’s in the “real world” so that’s different, the internet is of course imaginary so it doesn’t matter what happens there.

Richardsays:

Re: Re: No, that's not extreme...

This article acts like internet access is a constitutional right or a life essential act like breathing. It is not.

You are flat wrong here.

In the modern world it is.

The problem is that just about every modern electronic device is now being engineered to connect to the internet.

Before the six years are up, not being allowed to use the internet will effectively be equivalent to not being allowed to use electricity.

Where have you been for the last 10 years?

ldnesays:

Re: Re: No, that's not extreme...

“This article acts like internet access is a constitutional right or a life essential act like breathing. It is not.”

It’s not a right, but it is essential for virtually any participation in modern society. You can’t even apply for the night stock position at WalMart without accessing the internet, the kiosk at the service desk that is used to apply for work uses an internet connection. Such bans require a more detailed description of the limitations than “talk to the probation officer” in order to be a functional rehabilitation tool.

That Anonymous Cowardsays:

Re: Re: Stop and think

Did you miss where they have prisoners answering calls in call centers?
There was great alarm in the recent past when people found out they were booking their vacations via prisoners… someone wondered the the logic of letting criminals be given addresses and dates the home would be open, let alone handling credit card transactions.

That Anonymous Cowardsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Stop and think

I thought they were teaching them technology so they could pay them slave wages to keep working for corporations getting rich off of the labor pool they keep growing.
They might be teaching skills to “help them get back to society” but there are more jobs in prison labor camps than in society now.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

Totally man! If, when I was 15, I had to ask some 40 year old cop in a suit every time I wanted to send an email, look up an article, read news that was more recent than yesterdays’, or look at enough pr0n to get off, I’d be totally happy about it, and would feel like this guy is awesome and has everyone’s best interests at heart.

I wouldn’t hate the judge, and I certainly wouldn’t think he’s a dick and an idiot who’s ruined my chances at getting a job in the future doing what I do best. No I’d thank him for making sure that I won’t have a fighting chance at not being a burden to the state for years.

That Anonymous Cowardsays:

Its just like that movie ‘Hackers’.
Child destroys wall street and the day the internet ban is lifted he takes over the local tv station and encounters more hackers and then hijinks ensue… but then they save us all from someone trying to destroy the world with an oil spill to extort money as a coverup for looting money out of the company and the hackers are pursued by moronic government agents totally ignorant of how computers work and are lead by the nose by the bad guy to blame the hackers….

Its much better to watch it backwards…
Some white hats fix the Gibson then go back to their shitty lives.

Anonymoussays:

“He is prohibited from having contact with any members or associates of UG Nazi or Anonymous, along with-“

How. Stupid. Can. You. Get.

Okay, I can understand, say, a stereotypical, ~60 year old white, male judge mistakenly thinking, “omg, da hakr groop Anonymoose is a cleerly defind collecshun of individjuals!” but you’re an article writer for techdirt.com. He had the excuse of being ignorant; you do not, as your very job requires that you know such common sense things as, “Any script kiddie can say, “lol im a part of anonymous xDDD”, but that doesn’t mean a damn thing since that same claim has been made by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people online, almost entirely children with an overinflated ego and absolutely zero working knowledge of anything related to ‘hacking.'”

It wouldn’t be so bad if things stopped there, but it gets worse in two different ways. One: The extremely broad, far-reaching, somewhat moronic use of the word “Anonymous” to apply to a group of “lul super hakers xD” is often also mistakenly used to address anyone who has ever visited 4chan.org, regardless of which boards they were viewing, why they were checking out those boards, whether or not they even posted anything, and even regardless of whether or not they used the default name “Anonymous,” or decided to use a nickname and/or tripcode.

As many of you already know: obviously, there’s nothing inherently wrong with visiting or posting on 4chan, as long as you’re not one of the 0.1% of people there actively choosing to post illegal content, just for the sake of posting illegal content. (Oh, who am I kidding; 0.1%? That’s an EXTREME exaggeration. In reality, it’s much closer to 0.0001%. After all, in 2011 alone, 4chan was accessed by 190 million unique visitors, and served 7 billion pageviews. What I originally, unintentionally implied was that, of these 190 million unique visitors, about 190,000 of them were only there to knowingly post illegal content. As anyone who’s spent more than thirty minutes on any of its more popular boards knows: “You’re implying about 190,000 people per year come here to just post shit that’ll not only get them banned, but possibly also have their IP reported to their ISP with details of the illegal content they posted, which might then be forwarded to their local police department? But that’s wrong, you [language too colourful for me to get away with using, even if only quoting a fictional person within a hypothetical context, on this site].”)

Unfortunately, as an even greater number of people don’t know: I am rambling in a place where, of the small number of people who will ever see this, few of those will ever read this rant all the way through, and none will care. Why am I even wasting my time with this

I’m outtie

tekasays:

Re: Re:

You are jumping to defend the chan against an argument no-one made, friend.

That inset paragraph is not in italics because Mike is implying implications. That paragraph is taken from the article on Wired. And if you click through to read the Wired article it is pretty clear that the writer, Mat Honan, is taking that information from talking with Cosmo or attorneys representing him in some capacity.

So everything boils down to a judge making an ass-backwards decree about some young man’s connection to an “elite hacker group called anonymous” along with a very dumb deal that forces someone who might be an internet savant offline for a crazy amount of time. Things that the article called out as counterproductive and ill-considered.

So who are you yelling at? Who brought up 4chan, that den of iniquity and illegal filth(/sarc)? No one but you.

Chill out Anon.
and don’t say “outtie”, it makes you sound childish.

/tg/diy/

Anonymoussays:

fridges , stoves and appliances, show systems

they are soon to get networked into an internet of sorts will they tell the kid he cant eat , shower and do his homework?

right….just a way to say hey kid your too smart here were gonna take knowledge away form you so by time you get access again your too stupid to do anything.

THATS THE AMERICAN WAY make you all damn braindead and make a buck while doing it….WOOT stay in america and just enjoy .

@40 the UN says that having internet access is a right so what planet are you from? the US govt is basically saying were taking a fundamental communication right from you cause you showed everyone some flaws in crap.

I KNOW lets have no one hack stuff and show you its been hacked NO MORE defacings ….then you wont know when a real criminal is doing some real bad stuff….

SO the judge really is saying we need more criminals to attack websites and create more prison guard jobs and make more prisons …right>?

Bergmansays:

Given how ubiquitous net connections are getting, is it even possible for him to uphold the terms of his probation?

Refrigerators are networked with coffee makers these days. Vending machines have live updates that tell their owners when to refill them. He could get himself a can of coca cola and violate his probation without even being aware he did it.

havesomecheesesays:

togowithyourwine

Six years without internet sure beats taking it in the #@@ for even a month or two I would say. These type of conditions have always been part of America’s justice system so what makes this different? EVERYONE on probation has to put up with the BS it is part of getting through the system.

Part of why you don’t do it again if you aren’t completely daft. Stupid to make it seem like such an extraordinary punishment and this dude should be exempt from the BS everyone else who commits crimes deals with.

Oh no, no internets for the kid for six years!! the inhumanity!! Cant associates with anonymous!! You mean just like anyone else on probations cant associate with other criminals or others on probation, can’t go to liquor stores, cross state lines, own guns etc. This is far from a harsh punishment even if it is stupid and is not effective. Thousands who have broke the law and are caught up in the system would beg for this punishment. Deal with it and get through it.

“At some level it?s like taking away Mozart?s piano.? How f***ing stupid!!! When did he misuse his piano?? If Mozart committed crimes with his piano maybe someone should take it away. If a killer is really good at sniping people lets not take away his gun, he might use it for good one day and enter a shooting competition or get a job hunting shit. Same with the pedophiles, why would you ban them from working in schools when they have the potential to be such great teachers!!!

maxnickssays:

It’s a sad day when a judicial system rules that a child can be put in adult prison for a non-violent crime. Just one more instance in American where we place more value on the almighty dollar than a human life.

It’d make better sense if he was ordered to find a job in the IT industry. Who knows what a child with these kind of talents could do if he was encouraged and not threatened with prison.

He could be the next Woz (Steve Wozniak – inventor of Apple), or Zuckerberg (Facebook), or even Bill Gates (Microsoft).

Two benefits of such service?
1. There are 598.500 U.S. jobs created or supported by Apple (source: http://www.apple.com/about/job-creation/)

2. philanthropic Bill Gates has made one of his life’s goals to eradicate polio from planet earth (more at: http://www.gatesfoundation.org)

I’m just sayin’….

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