A computer hacking statute codified in 1961 (yes, before what we think of computers existed) is being wielded against Kiwi grey hat hacker Neil McDonald. His mistake was (in the short form) offering a company information about its weaknesses when he discovered them, prior to wrangling a consulting deal for same. That’s what’s basically considered Grey Hat, ie legal but aggressive, hacking. According to his remarks on Facebook in the hacker group associated with 2600 Magazine,
- Okay, so 3 years ago I gained access to The University of Melbourne. 5 different departments databases. I had access to various types of [redacted] logins etc. Interpol gets hold of it, under: Operation Akimbo. They found me, I gave a statement, and confessed. Now I have 3 weeks to build a case before my final court appearance.The crime wasn’t malicious and there was no intent for “finding gold”. It was merely a challenge, which I apparently passed.
He faces a seven-year sentence for breeching the Crimes Act of 1961, Section 250 for “Interfering with Computer System.” Whatever computer systems imaginable in 1961, a time at which no man had yet set foot on the moon, it’s hard to imagine their applicability today, particularly in light of McDonald’s alleged crime. The 2600 Magazine hacker community quickly coalesced about him, contrasting his lengthy potential sentence with that of pedophiles, with 220 comments within two hours and creating an Avaaz
fundraiser petition . “I told you in 1961 not to touch the keyboard,” said one joker. We reached out to McDonald, only to be rebuffed and referred to a stock statement:
Sorry, but no interview. I’m not after that kind of attention, I’m on a mission to contact Kim Dotcom. With the help of the awesome community at 2600, I think I might be able to do that. (Kim lives here). My name is Neil McDonald my charges: Damage/Interference Computer System (International/Reckless). That’s all I can say right now. But I thank Jodi Jones firstly for advising me on what to do. (look him up, ex milw0rm member). and I thank everyone from 2600 for supporting my cause. I hope that kim dotcom sees my case and posts, and decides to offer advice of the next step. Thank you. Neil McDonald
Well, good luck with that.
Featured image via Darlene on Flickr