Computer Crime Research Center


US: tackling cyber-crime

Date: August 22, 2008

The European Court of Human Rights will consider on Thursday whether to prevent hacker Gary McKinnon’s extradition to the United States. McKinnon is accused of breaking into numerous US government and military computer systems, causing 700,000 dollars of damage in the process -- including bringing down the computer network of a Navy Base for a week. McKinnon admits hacking into the systems but insists he did so without malicious intent (claiming instead that he was looking to find information on UFOs).

His defence hopes to exploit irregularities in the plea bargaining process, in which McKinnon was threatened with a substantially higher jail term if he did not cooperate with prosecutors -- also raising the possibility that McKinnon faced a military tribunal. However, the UK High Court was unsympathetic in a ruling last month, and a European reversal appears unlikely. Even the startlingly downbeat aims of the blog in McKinnon’s support -- “Free Gary McKinnon -- or at least try him in the UK” -- are unlikely to be met.

McKinnon was unlucky in his timing: he was arrested in the more suspicious security climate after the terrorist attacks of 2001 (previous such cases from the 1990s did not lead to prosecution; another, of an Israeli hacker from earlier in 2001, resulted in a local sentence of community service rather than extradition). It seems likely that having expended significant resources to deal with what the Critical Infrastructure Protection Board feared might be “a nation-state or a terrorist group”, the US government wanted to make an example of McKinnon -- wagering that the deterrent effect would be greater than the harm done to public diplomacy from a backlash. Despite attempts by McKinnon’s defence team to mobilise public opinion in his support -- for instance, linking his case to arguments over the asymmetric extradition requirements between the United States and the United Kingdom -- the gamble seems to have paid off, by dint of the obscurity of McKinnon’s alleged crimes.
Original article

Add comment  Email to a Friend

Discussion is closed - view comments archieve
2008-08-23 05:18:21 - garry should have never been prosecuted.... Mike Orton
Total 1 comments
Copyright © 2001-2013 Computer Crime Research Center
CCRC logo