Mail: How Should Virus Writers Be Punished
This from reader Mark N. Metz, CEO of Stop Piracy Now, Inc. I wrote about the just arrested teenager suspected of being the author of a variant of the Master worm: ‘Can’t help feeling sorry for the kid. He is going down.” Mark has this to say:
You’re kidding, right? What if the kid’s worm took down a hospital’s emergency-room server with patient records, or took down a 911 call center in the middle of a frantic call?
If the same kid poured gasoline on a hospital or a 911 call center and lit a match, everyone would understand that it’s arson and it’s a hideous felony. And it is critically important to recognize why arson is punished the way it is — it puts people’s lives in grave danger. People die when other people do these kinds of destructive things.
The buildings in my analogy could be rebuilt just as servers can be rebuilt, but dead people can’t. If someone hasn’t died yet from one of these computer vandals, it is a miracle that all of us should be thankful for. The law needs to start taking these online crimes as seriously as they do the offline ones.
I don’t feel one bit sorry for the kid. They should throw the book at him.
Fair enough, Mark, and maybe I should have chosen my words better. Actually I was referring more to the fact that he knows he’s about to be arrested and how that must feel. But also, if the guy is 18, I’m not sure he knew this was going to happen. I agree virus writers should be held responsible and punished. But how many viruses are unleashed on the world that don’t get anywhere? Should virus writers be punished for the enormity of the result or for the fact they write a virus in the first place? I don’t know the answer. Thoughts, anyone?
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