Gary McKinnon is the United States' public enemy #1 these days. No doubt you've read about him in the papers, or somewhere online. The short story is this... from February 2001 thru March 2002 Gary McKinnon penetrated something like 80+ military systems, and 16 NASA computers leaving messages, taking information and allegedly shutting down a Washington-based military net for 24hrs. Given all he's done, you'd figure there would of course be a criminal case and he'd get 5, maybe 10 years in prison and some fines right? You'd be very wrong.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition from his native Britain and as much as 70 years in prison. Perhaps by now the terms "crueal and unusual" are creeping into your brain? Why in the world would a hacker (who hasn't done any "real damage" that's been demonstrated yet) get basically a life sentence [given that he's already in his 40's]?
The answer is quite simple ladies and gentlemen. Bruised egos. The United States government's networks are so poorly defended that they are penetrated all the time from China, internally from within the US, and now from British hackers seeking proof of the existence of little green men [erm... UFOs]. The Belfast Telegraph quotes an un-named source in the US government of saying he'd like to see Gary McKinnon "fry" for his crimes. Isn't that a little extreme? We've got states here in the US, Illinois being one of them, who have yet to pass proper child rape laws, and we're going to prosecute a "hacker" and have him "fry" for his crimes?
Obviously, if you haven't gotten all charged up about this yet, it's a clear case of over-zealous old men and women in the US legal system and government looking at things completely out of perspective. Instead of dealing out a fair punnishment (say... 12 months prison, 2 years probabtion, no computer/internet access) we're going to send him to jail for what will amount to the rest of his natural life? What a joke. The US legal system has truly hit rock-bottom, and I'm embarssed to say that I live in this country sometimes.
If we are to be the greatest country on earth, and set an example for the rest of the world- perhaps we could come up with punnishments that fit the crime. Kill/rape a child - you should "fry". Hack the government, you should get an appropriate punnishment and the government agency should be fired wholesale... and replaced with competent InfoSec and IT professionals.
It's a sad, sad day folks. I do like Gary's comment...
"I'm very angry," he says. "I genuinely believe that we are the 51st State. You see it everywhere you go, not just our foreign policy, but in our schools, our hospitals and now our courts. The British Government simply bends over backwards for America."