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Florida Bringing Hacking Felony Charges Against 13-Year-Old

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The definition of hacking in Florida might get a whole lot broader if Domanik Green is found guilty, now that the Pasco County, Florida prosecutors have apparently not yet decided to drop hacking charges against the 8th grader.

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The Serious Crime of Changing a Desktop Background

hack youthTo be clear from the outset, all this boy did was change a desktop background of a teacher that him and his fellow students disliked. This is not unlike writing on the blackboard behind the teacher’s back, a crime punished with detention. But the Pasco County Sheriffs believe that Green violated Chapter 815 of the Florida law, specifically chapter 06 thereof, which classifies the boy’s activities, technically speaking, as a felony in the third degree.

Also read: Michigan High School Student Facing Charges After DDoS’ing School Network

Technically speaking. If people who don’t know what they’re talking about are railroaded by an overzealous prosecution looking for a Supreme Court loss down the road. Certainly a higher court would see the ratiocination of this case to be a miscarriage of the spirit and letter of the law. In any case, the legality pertaining to Green reads:

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A person commits an offense against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks, or electronic devices if he or she willfully, knowingly, and without authorization […] accesses or causes to be accessed any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device with knowledge that such access is unauthorized [and] […] introduces any computer contaminant into any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device […]

Or at least that’s the only part of the computer crimes section of Florida law that Hacked has been able to apply to the County Sheriff’s assertion that young Green committed “offense against a computer system and unauthorized access.” These two violations are both listed as third degree felonies, which in Florida are punishable by up to five years each and can carry fines of $5,000.

How did he violate the law? Allegedly, he used the well-known password of the (absentee) teacher he didn’t like, logged on, and changed the background of the desktop to a picture of two men kissing. The image must be the “contaminant” and the use of the password use must be the unauthorized access. Law is a tricky thing, even for those who administer and prosecute it, and there is a fatal flaw in the legal strategy of the sheriff, who is most likely expecting the young man and his mother to stand down.

Teenage Ignorance of the Law

The case gets more interesting when you hear the words of young Mr. Green himself. The boy, whom school officials said had previously been in trouble for similar activities (and they hadn’t felt the need to call the police that time), claims he had no clue he was breaking the law. Now, remember what you just read above: “knowingly, and without authorization […] with knowledge that such access is unauthorized.”

Here is what he said to the local news, when they approached him shortly after he was released from jail. It is unusual for a minor criminal to be identified, but the boy and his mother were eager to speak to the news, apparently realizing immediately that an injustice was being carried out.

If they had notified me that it was illegal, I wouldn’t have done it in the first place, but all they said was, you shouldn’t be doing that.

Further, the boy claims that accessing the systems using teacher’s passwords is a regular occurrence, and that many students in the district do it. It must be why the teacher’s passwords are so easy to know.

The computer crimes law in Florida seems to be written, in spirit, to deal with malicious hackers who do actual damage. For instance, it has a specifically harsher sentence for those who disrupt hospitals. It also makes immune police agencies, which is troubling.

The court could set a very dangerous precedent if they convict Green of any crime in relation to his activities. Next, parents will be having their children locked up for unlawful use of their data plan, which the court could conceivably consider a network. Rationality has to start somewhere. It may not be the job of the Sheriff to drop charges, only to make arrests and enforce his understanding of the law, but it is most certainly the job of the prosecutors to weed out frivolous or unnecessary cases.

A conviction of Mr. Green will only teach the other students that the administration is insane, and their parents that they should move to a more intelligent district. It will most likely, one might not, ruin his life before it’s even begun. It is exactly the kind of case that should have stayed within school walls.

Meanwhile, the very same administrators who felt authorized to create a national news story out of a classroom prank have a suspiciously missing public policy on student discipline. Interesting.

13-floridaUpdate: the EFF have picked up on this case, there is a crowdfunding campaign to fund Mr. Green’s legal defense, and there is now a petition online to have him acquitted. Rational people nationwide seem to be striking back.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Illutian Kade

    April 17, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Figures…fucking police state in this country these days. All the while, the local buffoons go on a power trip.

  2. Hennessy Hemp

    April 17, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Sounds like they’re having trouble catching real hackers, and using this to bolster their stats.

  3. Ian

    April 17, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    I think if permitted, then U.S. lawmakers would incarcerate people from birth for the benefit of the nation as it supports the prison industry – creating more jobs – and helps prepare people for war and killing, again creating jobs and growth for the industry. With statements like, it is easy manipulate people into giving up their freedom.

  4. Ian

    April 17, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    The lesson being taught here is to respect authority. Whether the approved has dementia with the mental capacity of a three year old is irrelevant, they must be respected and believed, otherwise it’s off to prison.

    • Danix Defcon 5

      April 20, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      The issue with this is that he’s being charged with a felony. Even though his actions were tasteless, there’s no way his actions would actually merit a felony charge. It’s kinda like getting 30 to life for shoplifting some M&Ms from your local 7-Eleven.

      • Victor Masey

        April 22, 2015 at 8:10 pm

        Uh, don’t look now but 30 to life for shoplifting some M&Ms from your local 7-Eleven is ALREADY standard sentencing!!

      • englishvinal

        June 28, 2015 at 4:06 pm

        I had a neighbor whose dogs barked incessantly day and night. We went to him and asked him to please try to put barking collars on the dogs or train them to be quiet when told to be quiet…
        He said “What is wrong with you? The dogs bark…. that’s what dogs DO”..

        Well, charging 13 year olds with a felony, giving them a criminal record for LIFE because the boy changed the picture on the teacher’s computer….
        … by the “government” PO-lice and the bureaucrats……………………..
        …… “Is what they DO”…………………
        Got it?

  5. pacman7331

    April 18, 2015 at 12:09 am

    Bleh… this isn’t hacking. I don’t have much compassion for the kid, given his choice of desktop background. But really this isn’t hacking. That kid is too dumb to hack anything.

    • englishvinal

      June 28, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      Probably the teacher was suspected of something…..

  6. Schnitt

    April 18, 2015 at 11:58 am

    The entire state of Florida must be punished for the insolence of this Sherriff.

  7. Victor Masey

    April 22, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    “Florida Bringing Hacking Felony Charges Against 13-Year-Old”

    Not surprising for a collapsing Third World kraphole that openly practices legalized torture, legalized kidnappings, legalized financial fraud, legalized war crimes, legalized massive surveillance of absolutely everyone & everything, a legalized system of privately run Prisons-For-Profit, legalized market data manipulation, legalized highway robbery (aka Civil Asset Forfeitures), legalized secret FISA courts that issue legalized secret warrants, legalized police brutality, legalized drone bombings of children playing soccer on some beach 7422 miles away from here, legalized military invasions of foreign nations based on false pretenses & fabricated evidence, legalized benefits for illegal immigrants, legalized & purposeful dumbing-down of the entire national educational system, legalized usury, legalized bail-outs of failed private corporations at public expense, a completely corrupt judiciary operating a two-tier ‘justice’ system, legalized assassinations of 16 year old U.S. citizens with no judicial review whatsoever (Abdulrahman al-Awlaki), a completely corrupt legislative arm, a completely corrupt & ineffectual president who seems to believe he possesses dictatorial powers, a completely corrupt and subservient newsmedia that only reports what it is told/allowed to report, legalized blacklists, legalized censorship, complete elimination of Constitutional Rule of Law and legalized forcing of the population into buying worthless overpriced “healthcare” plans practically at gunpoint.

  8. englishvinal

    June 28, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    The whole US “system”… (government rules regulations, bullying bureaucrats and career sell-out politicians) needs to be de-funded.. hacked and crashed…
    And then maybe the people could find REAL representatives with the ability to do deductive reasoning and use logic…. and start OVER.

  9. Robert Genito

    August 8, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    . . .

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Breaches

Uber Is Paying Hackers to Keep Quiet

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Uber Technologies Inc. has reportedly paid hackers to delete scores of private data stolen from the company in a security breach that was concealed for over a year. The revelation provides further confirmation that, when it comes to cyber security, crime does pay.

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Massive Data Breach

According to Bloomberg Technology, hackers retrieved the personal data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers at some point last year. Nobody heard about it because the rideshare company paid the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet. A purge at the front office of Uber also ensured that the massive cyber breach was kept under wraps.

The compromised data was from October 2016 and included the names, phone numbers and addressed of 50 million Uber riders globally. About seven million drivers had their personal information accessed as well.

At the time of the cyber attack, Uber was inundated with a slew of legal issues stemming from alleged privacy violations. Rather than shine even more negative spotlight on the company, Uber executives decided to pay hackers to stay quiet.

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“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as CEO in September, said in a statement that was published by Bloomberg. “We are changing the way we do business.”

Hackers have done a masterful job infiltrating companies and governments in recent years. As a reminder, recent cyber attacks levied against Yahoo!, Target Corp and Equifax Inc. dwarf Uber’s 57 million compromised accounts.

Various reports indicate that cyber attacks are bleeding the global economy dry. One report, issued by the World Economic Forum, suggests that cyber crime cost the world economy $445 billion in 2016. If cyber crime were its own market cap, it would exceed Microsoft Inc., Facebook Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp

The Fall of Uber?

Uber revolutionized the ride-hailing business over the span of seven years by giving more power to the consumer. Several missteps later, the company finds itself in legal hot water, with its future appearing less certain than it did just one year ago.

The rideshare company faces at least five U.S. probes ranging from bribes to illicit software and right up to unethical pricing schemes. According to another Bloomberg report, Uber is under investigation for violating price transparency regulations, not to mention the alleged theft of documents for Google’s autonomous cars.

Some governments are sensing weakness in the ride-hailing service, and are moving toward banning the Uber app entirely. London is the most prominent example of a city that has taken definitive steps to outlaw the service over a “lack of corporate responsibility.”

Even with its legal troubles, Uber is a revolutionary technology that has influenced a bevy of other innovations aimed at improving the human experience.

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Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility

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Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.

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Ethereum Forges Higher Path

Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.

At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.

The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.

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Fractured Bitcoin Community

Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.

Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.

Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.

Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.

Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist

Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.

In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.

The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.

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Breaches

Ethereum Prices on Track for 35% Monthly Drop

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It has been a difficult month for ethereum. The world’s No. 2 digital currency has lost a third of its value over the past 30 days following a series of cyber breaches targeting vulnerable wallets and ICOs.

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Ethereum Struggles to Regain Momentum

Ethereum (ETH/USD) was trading near $197.00 Sunday at 6:30 BST, according to Bitfinex. That represents a decline of around 5%. At current values, ethereum’s market cap was $18.4 billion.

The ETH/USD exchange rate has struggled throughout July, with prices briefly falling below $160.00. The decline, which amounted to a 60-day low, lured bargain-hunters back into the market. After surging back toward $250.00, the ETH/USD has consolidated below the $220-mark, which continues to offer strong resistance. On the opposite side of the spectrum, major support is located at $180.00.

A price recovery may prove elusive in the short-term, with the Relative Strength Index (RSI) and Stochastic indicator signalling weak underlying momentum.

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Despite its recent decline, ethereum’s value has surged more than 2,200% this year.

Cyber Attacks, SEC Weigh on Market

The ethereum network suffered a large-scale cyber breach earlier this month resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars. A community of ethical hackers quickly banded together to “rescue” hundreds of millions of dollars worth of tokens.

Blockchain-based trading platform Coindash was also hijacked during an initial coin offering (ICO). The breach exposed Coindash’s ether wallet address, resulting in the loss of $7 million worth of ether.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also taken an interest in the ethereum-based ICO market. Last week, the regulator concluded that a certain multi-million dollar token sale last year violated securities law. Although ICOs have been compared to crowd-sourcing, the SEC maintained that some tokens were in fact securities.

Analysts say the SEC ruling could impact the future of ICOs, although it remains unclear how the regulator is pursuing this market. The SEC’s July 25 press release cautions investors about ICOs in general.

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