Invitation to become a bot herder
What else would you call it? Consider the facts:
– He spent over two years building bot nets- not a person who was a mule but someone who actively recruited people for his A Team- and would have kept going if not stopped. The judge still sees no criminal intent on his part, just curiosity.
– Even the prosecution called for leniency. So much for the vaunted FBI operation Bot Roast.
– He controlled 1.3 million computers around the world yet escaped conviction (also video) since it might ruin the prospects of using his skills in a positive way. No doubt those 1.3 million people are thrilled at that prospect as is UPenn, which he crashed for a couple of days with an accidental distributed denial of service attack
– All he got was a fine of $9,526 or about US$ 7,300 for damage that runs into millions of dollars because all the police actually proved was the UPenn attack.
OK, so he was 16 when he started and suffers from mild Asperger’s syndrome but what message does the sentence send to bored teenagers? That the Internet is a lawless wild west? That if you’re stupid enough to get caught, don’t worry, there’s not going to be a hanging? Instead, the police and overseas companies will line up to give you a job? That all you’re going to get is a fine that you can probably pay from your first month’s salary (as you’ve already blown the $40,000 you’ve made)?
From the news coverage, it seems to me that all of the hinting that he might work for the police is just a red herring.
Owen Walker was not that good a programmer, even though the police think so (video), just a person with a very relaxed sense of right and wrong.
The message is physical crime is not worth it- you actually do get sent to jail and no prosecutor is going to ask a judge to discharge you without a conviction. The Internet is where the smart guys go to- it seems that everyone is on your side then.
On TV (video) they aren’t willing to speak out against the sentence. So what’s next? A book deal? An invitation to speak at the RSA Conference a la Frank Abagnale?
Do we get the crime that we deserve?