Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Government News Your Rights Online

British Hacker Loses Review of Asperger's Defense 278

Posted by kdawson
from the one-more-chance dept.
Barence writes "Gary McKinnon has lost the judicial review of his case, dealing a potentially fatal blow to his hopes of avoiding extradition to the US. Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr. Justice Wilkie dismissed the review at the Royal Courts of Justice. The review had been assembled to determine whether the diagnosis of McKinnon's Asperger's Syndrome had any bearing on the Home Office's original decision to extradite him to the US. Asperger's sufferers often exhibit obsessive behavior and social naivety, which McKinnon's lawyers have long offered as mitigation. His legal team now has 28 days to appeal the verdict, and his lawyer, Karen Todners, has indicated they may consider taking his case before the US Supreme Court. Last year we discussed a full profile of the hacker published by the BBC." Sophos's survey of 550 IT professionals found that 71% believe McKinnon should not be extradited.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

British Hacker Loses Review of Asperger's Defense

Comments Filter:
  • Guantanamo (Score:1, Insightful)

    by drunken_boxer777 (985820) on Friday July 31, 2009 @09:58AM (#28895537)

    It's surprising this guy didn't wake up in Guantanamo Bay one morning, considering there is a lot more evidence against him than some of the inmates there.

  • by lacoronus (1418813) on Friday July 31, 2009 @10:02AM (#28895595)

    I'm so sick of the aspie defense. Seems like every time a computer user is on trial (remember Reiser?), it gets rolled out. "My client is guilty as hell, but he's got Asperger's!" First, your mental handicap has to be to the point where you quite literally don't know what you're doing - so just give it up, having light Asperger's doesn't cut it. Second, it impacts the way people view us computer professionals - for example, when we try to argue for less copyright and more information freedom. The aspie defense does us about as much good as the "Your honor, this man did indeed kill his daughter, but he's Muslim, he can't help himself" defense does for the vast majority of Muslims.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 31, 2009 @10:03AM (#28895605)
    If he fits the requirements of the extradition agreements between the US and the UK, then he should be extradited. If he wants to try to use Aspergers in his defence, he can do that over here.
  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday July 31, 2009 @10:09AM (#28895671) Homepage Journal

    I strongly disagree. If McKinnon admittedly broke into U.S. government systems, on U.S. soil, then the entire act occurred in the United States, making McKinnon subject to U.S. law and court jurisdiction. If the reverse had been true and McKinnon were in the United States breaking into MI5 computers, you better believe that the Crown would be looking to extradite him to the U.K..

  • AS is no excuse (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Friday July 31, 2009 @10:14AM (#28895711) Homepage

    Oh come on, stop making medical excuses for this guy. Most people with AS know that you cannot do something like this without breaking the law and getting punished.

    McKinnon is just another geek who thought that a lack of security implied that he could just walk right in through the door without punishment. Chances are, he's also one of those geeks who would hypocritically go postal if he left his door unlocked and a bunch of people walked in and refused to leave.

    "But it's a computer... it's **different** mmmmkay?"

  • by Bakkster (1529253) <Bakkster@man.gmail@com> on Friday July 31, 2009 @10:23AM (#28895831)

    It should be both, shouldn't it? You're hacking from your own jurisdiction, as well as trespassing on property in another jurisdiction.

    But, if a country doesn't care about prosecuting hackers targeting American systems, we probably don't have an extradition treaty with them either. In that case it becomes something for our diplomats to duke out.

  • by rs232 (849320) on Friday July 31, 2009 @10:31AM (#28895931)
    "Gary McKinnon has lost the judicial review of his case, dealing a potentially fatal blow to his hopes of avoiding extradition to the US" It's ironic that if the situation were reversed and under the 'evidence; presented in this case, the UK government would have no way of getting McKinnon extradited here. I guess we're not a real country ane'ways .. :)
  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:05AM (#28896431) Homepage Journal
    The prosecutor said he was going to fry him. That alone is grounds for refusing extradition.
  • by Eevee (535658) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:11AM (#28896527)

    It's still hacking. Incredibly easy hacking, but any attempt to gain access to a system where you're not authorized is hacking. You can try to delude yourself that it isn't, but a reasonable person will conclude that it is hacking. It's like that bit from Jumanji: "You tried to cheat?" "No, I tried to drop the dice so they'd land on twelve." Oh, okay, honey. Well, that would be cheating."

    As for the "having a look round" bit: I don't know what the law is like where you live, but if someone does that here, they're gonna end up in the local jail waiting to go before a judge to explain just why they're wandering around. (And I don't suspect the judge will be happy with "Oh, I was just looking around.")

    18.2-92. Breaking and entering dwelling house with intent to commit other misdemeanor. If any person break and enter a dwelling house while said dwelling is occupied, either in the day or nighttime, with the intent to commit any misdemeanor except assault and battery or trespass, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. However, if the person was armed with a deadly weapon at the time of such entry, he shall be guilty of a Class 2 felony. (Code 1950, 18.1-88.1; 1968, c. 530; 1970, c. 381; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1992, c. 486.)

  • by JoeD (12073) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:14AM (#28896563) Homepage

    And if you came home and found such a note on your table, what would your reaction be?

    Would it be "My my, I should really double check to make sure the door was locked. Thanks, Anonymous Note Writer!"

    Probably not. Most likely, it would be something like "Holy crap, who does that guy think he is coming into my house and poking around without permission?" followed by vague feelings of unease and paranoia.

    Yes, the systems should have been secured better. But that still doesn't give someone permission to go poking around in them, any more than someone has permission to go poking around in your house if the door is unlocked.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:27AM (#28896761)

    "18.2-92. Breaking and entering...". If the door is unlocked it is not "breaking and entering". That's the law. I don't know about the US, but if there's no malicious intent, entering without breaking is not even a crime in the UK.

    Which was my point. From a moral point of view, his unauthorized access was the equivalent of entering without breaking. Why should this be treated more harshly because a computer was involved? Even if it was treated the same, he would be looking at a year in jail (maybe, at most), not 60.

    A reasonable person whose head wasn't full of "oh my god evil hackers" nonsense would treat this the same as any other trespass.

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:30AM (#28896813)

    I'm so sick of the aspie defense. Seems like every time a computer user is on trial (remember Reiser?), it gets rolled out. "My client is guilty as hell, but he's got Asperger's!"

    If this defense was accepted in court, the unforeseen consequence would be that eventually companies and governments would protect themselves from preventing those with Asperger's Syndrome (or borderline equivalent behavior). Imagine mandatory mental screening on a yearly basis to prevent anyone with "the wrong kind of thinking" from being able to have internet access because one guy set a landmark case and got away with being just nuts enough to escape prison.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:32AM (#28896831)

    The reaction you have has nothing to do with it.

  • Re:Guantanamo (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:35AM (#28896885)

    He's white, silly!

  • by dave420 (699308) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:41AM (#28896957)

    That's kind of the issue. They had no way to know if he'd damaged anything, and so they had to check everything out, which costs time and money. They screwed up, but he knew he shouldn't be in their systems. I don't think he should be sent to the US, but he's not innocent.

    What he did was the moral equivalent of walking through an unlocked, unguarded door marked "stay the fuck out", where sensitive equipment is kept that must not be tampered with, and having a look around. He's facing jail time because even though the door was unlocked, he knew he shouldn't have been in there, and the only way to determine whether said sensitive equipment had been tampered with is by manually checking every last piece.

  • by pluther (647209) <pluther@usaGAUSS.net minus math_god> on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:42AM (#28896985) Homepage

    No, leaving your door unlocked is not an invitation to enter.

    But we don't lock people up for 60 years for trespassing.

    If the original post up there is correct, what he did was far less severe a crime than trespassing.

    A fine would be appropriate here. Decades in US federal prison most certainly is not.

  • Re:FIST SPORT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ground.zero.612 (1563557) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:43AM (#28897003)

    Maybe people will finally realise Aspergers isn't a real condition and an excuse for the the socially inept to not make the effort.

    Some psychological, personality, and/or developmental disorders aren't fictitious. Maybe people will finally realize that and stop being facetious know-it-all assholes. Then again, maybe people like ringbarer are obvious trolls and my social ineptness and my lack of effort is the excuse for this misunderstanding.

  • by StellarFury (1058280) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:46AM (#28897037)

    Uh, who gives a damn? He was hacking into U.S. computers. He should be punished under U.S. law. Is anyone in the U.K. a direct victim of his crime? No. Is the U.S. government? Yes. Thus he answers to the U.S. legal system. End of story.

  • Re:FIST SPORT (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blueskies (525815) on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:51AM (#28897105) Journal

    And just like heart disease. It's called being a pussy. Don't grab at your chest pussy. Suck it up!

    (obviously you've never heard of adult ADD which is somehow "just being a kid?")

  • Re:FIST SPORT (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:59AM (#28897233)

    You are woefully uninformed and have probably only run into those idiots that self-diagnose as having Aspergers for the reason you state. If you've ever met anyone that was professionally diagnosed with Aspergers you'd know that almost all of them do what they can to fight the disorder and act normally. I, personally, know several and unless they told you it'd be hard to tell them apart from your average geek.

    In other words... I'd suggest you STFU and actually do some research before cocking off about something you obviously have no real knowledge about.

  • by tnk1 (899206) on Friday July 31, 2009 @12:01PM (#28897269)

    Let's be clear. He should not have been on those systems. He *knew* he was not allowed in those systems. The fact that there was security, good, bad or non-existent is completely irrelevant. It doesn't matter if he was "exposing" their lack of security. It doesn't matter if he supposedly did no damage.

    Nothing compelled him to attack and intrude on another party's system. Nothing compelled him to do that intrusion on a system that he knew would cause the black helicopters to appear. Being stupid is not a defense in a court of law. Although he has demonstrated a certain lack of mental capacity by even trying this stunt, he's still not dumb enough to be considered retarded, although *that* should have been his diminished capacity defense.

    The DoD does not have the luxury of taking this guy at his word, they *must* investigate. That costs time and money. Additionally, intruding on a military system carries the higher than average possibility that compromise could cause casualties. That means that you come down like a ton of bricks on people who do it, without regard for what they actually attacked. You want people to know that simply putting their pinky toe over the line into that network is Serious Business, despite what they decided to go after.

    Don't get me wrong. People need to be fired at DoD and security needs to be improved, but that doesn't make what he did right or legal or less deserving of extradition and jail time. You don't go logging into military systems on a lark. If he was allowed to get off the hook for that, just think of the numbers of emboldened attackers who would see one less reason why they shouldn't attack a portion of the Internet that is already a huge target.

    To reiterate, it doesn't matter if the morons at DoD left their door ajar, and it doesn't matter if our friendly neighborhood hacker just started writing notes all over the place about how bad their security was. You may not like having to send him to another country for trial, but he earned it. The only thing that the situation seems to lack is the sanctions and/or jail time for the people who were that bad at security. They should rot in jail alongside with McKinnon.

  • by History's Coming To (1059484) on Friday July 31, 2009 @12:05PM (#28897323) Journal
    Like the guys in Guantanamo who are accused of crimes against the US who are subject to US law....no....hang on.....
  • Re:FIST SPORT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday July 31, 2009 @12:23PM (#28897523) Journal

    Yup, and you can do a scan to determine if I am awake or asleep, or whether I am thinking or not. This does not, however, indicate it is some type of genetic disorder or environmental variable causing this.

    The one fact that keeps rearing its head is that even after you take out other socioeconomic variables, ADD and ADHD is much more prevalent in fatherless households. There is a very high correlation. And yes, I know correlation!=causation. However, you have to make some pretty big leaps of faith to get around it. Dads have a much different parenting style and discipline style than moms. It stands to reason that this would have an impact on the outcome of the children.

    And now, in the modern America, where husbands aren't really viewed as necessary (or even desired), we wonder why we have an explosion of these "disorders". Sorry... it ain't rocket science.

  • by Dr. Impossible (1580675) on Friday July 31, 2009 @12:24PM (#28897527)

    I'm more concerned about the possibility that he'll be raped and tortured in prison. Unless the US can absolutely guarantee that it won't happen, extraditing him should be out of the question.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 31, 2009 @12:26PM (#28897561)

    Except when US soldiers are guilty of murdering British journalists [dailymail.co.uk], they're not allowed to be punished under British law. Can't have it both ways mate.

    Frankly, yours and your countrymen's attitude toward other sovereign nations -- namely that the US is allowed to stomp around the world, murdering and pillaging with no reperecussions -- but if some idiot guesses that your Windows systems have default Administrator accounts with no passwords, then they should be made an example of, possibly facing death by electrocution [telegraph.co.uk] or 70 years in jail, is disgusting.

    You wonder why the rest of the world hates your country? Re-read your own post, the reason's right there.

  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday July 31, 2009 @12:33PM (#28897673)
    We may socially subfunctional, but we can still tell right from wrong.
  • Re:FIST SPORT (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gizzmonic (412910) on Friday July 31, 2009 @12:40PM (#28897783) Homepage Journal

    And now, in the modern America, where husbands aren't really viewed as necessary (or even desired), we wonder why we have an explosion of these "disorders". Sorry... it ain't rocket science.

    What America do you live in? In the one I live in, "family values" like marriage, having children, etc are cherished. There's even public service announcements like "it takes a man to be a dad." No one, besides maybe the most radical feminists would say that fathers are "undesired." And there really aren't many single-parent households at all if you count step-parents.

  • Asperger's == Nerd (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Comboman (895500) on Friday July 31, 2009 @12:54PM (#28898045)

    Asperger's sufferers often exhibit obsessive behavior and social naivety ... Sophos's survey of 550 IT professionals found that 71% believe McKinnon should not be extradited.

    Obsessive behavior and social naivety describes every IT professional I know (myself included). I'm amazed that only 71% don't think he should be extradited (the other 29% must be in denial).

  • Re:FIST SPORT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday July 31, 2009 @12:55PM (#28898053) Journal

    Family values are talked about. We have advertising campaigns. But it is projected that in a few years that more kids will be born out of wedlock than in (it is slightly over 40% now). This is trend is being seen in all social levels. So, Family Values are a nice political campaign slogan, but we have rejected them as a society.

    If you want the #1 factor in a child's success, look to two-parent households with parents who are actively involved with their children. Forget ethnicity, forget money. They may be big factors, but parents' involvement is #1.

  • Mod parent up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shin-LaC (1333529) on Friday July 31, 2009 @01:01PM (#28898145)
    The American prison system (judging by how it's described by American sources themselves - often with glee) is something to which no civilized nation should allow its citizens to be subjected. Sometimes people seem not to realize how twisted it is that prison rape be considered a normal part of going to jail, instead of the vile barbarity that it is.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 31, 2009 @01:59PM (#28899029)

    In the UK they normally keep the game disks behind the till. If I walked behind the till and used my laptop to make a copy of a game, that would not be burglary.

    But McKinnon's intent was to copy documents proving the existence of aliens. Since such documents don't exist it cannot be claimed that he had a meaningful intent to copy anything.

    I still don't get what is supposed to be so terrible about what he did.

  • Re:Guantanamo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultranova (717540) on Friday July 31, 2009 @02:15PM (#28899295)

    It's surprising this guy didn't wake up in Guantanamo Bay one morning, considering there is a lot more evidence against him than some of the inmates there.

    Not at all, given that the whole point of Guantanamo Bay is to hold people against whom there is no evidence. He's actually guilty of something, so he can be sentenced in a court. Now, if he was innocent, but someone disliked him and wanted to get rid of him, then he would be sent to GB.

    Not that that GB would be that different than the one he's currently in, mind you...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 31, 2009 @06:40PM (#28903255)

    Is the U.S. government? Yes.

    Exactly how is the US gov hurt? Seems to me he did them a favor by breaking in and notifying them (foolish doing that) before the really bad guys could. Then again the US DoD shitty security network is probably already swarming with rootkit installed zombies anyway.

    Was it foolish of the guy breaking in? Yes. Should he deserve a death sentence for it? F*ck you then, you're no geek. What are you doing here??

  • by westlake (615356) on Friday July 31, 2009 @07:27PM (#28903763)

    But we don't lock people up for 60 years for trespassing.

    There have always been places where a physical intrusion - no matter how trivial - could quite conceivably get you shot.

    The online world isn't so very different.

  • AS and dating (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 31, 2009 @07:45PM (#28903943)

    I know you were trolling, but I need to respond. I have AS. My father has it. My grandfather had it. And my son and one of my daughters have it.

    Awh shit, even people with Aspergers date and have sex. I need to get out of my parent's basement! :-)

All constants are variables.

Working...