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No Charges In UK For Gary McKinnon

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the end-of-a-long-road dept.

United Kingdom 148

clickclickdrone sends this news from the BBC: "Computer hacker Gary McKinnon, who is wanted in the U.S., will not face charges in the U.K., the Crown Prosecution Service has said. Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC said the chances of a successful conviction were 'not high.' He announced the decision some three months after Home Secretary Theresa May stopped the extradition. Mr. McKinnon, 46, admits accessing U.S. government computers but says he was looking for evidence of UFOs. The U.S. authorities tried to extradite him to face charges of causing $800,000 (£487,000) to military computer systems and he would have faced up to 60 years in prison if convicted."

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this: (4, Informative)

samjam (256347) | about 2 years ago | (#42287861)

The UK CPS declined to prosecute him originally and further decline to do so now.

This trumps all other arguments.

Re:this: (4, Interesting)

Grumbleduke (789126) | about 2 years ago | (#42288351)

McKinnon even sued the CPS over their decision not to prosecute him, and lost (judgment here [bailii.org] ). The CPS really don't want to prosecute him.

Re:this: (4, Informative)

stephanruby (542433) | about 2 years ago | (#42289683)

The UK CPS declined to prosecute him originally and further decline to do so now.

And yet, McKinnon said he'd be willing to plead guilty if he was prosecuted in the UK.

By letter dated 5 June 2009, the Claimant made further representations and indicated that he would be willing to plead guilty to an offence under section 3 of the 1990 Act. Accordingly, the Director was invited to reconsider the decision not to prosecute, since the evidential test was now satisfied, having regard to the wider public interest which, it was asserted, pointed to a prosecution in the United Kingdom. The Director was further invited to "have full regard to Article 3 and Article 8 of the Convention".

Perhaps, it would have been too much of an embarrassment to the US if the guy had only received 6 months probation and a 1000 fine when what they really wanted was to set an example and have this autistic guy up-rooted from his own country/family, bullied and raped, and locked up in a Federal prison for the next 60 years.

Loony (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42287869)

Has he been taking bath salts anally like McAfee?

Re:Loony (-1, Flamebait)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#42288491)

No, he has Asperger's syndrome, which, from what I can gather, is way for IT guys like us to behave like absolutely fucking pricks, and we just have to hold up the card "Asperger's" and everyone is supposed to accept our miserable attitude. Apserger also apparently extends to hacking into systems we have no business being in. Apparently, providing we have this wonderful social ineptitude disease, we don't face the consequences of any of our online actions.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I think I'm going to go out at lunch and kick some little old lady in the ass. "Asperger's!"

Re:Loony (4, Funny)

wild_quinine (998562) | about 2 years ago | (#42288823)

No, he has Asperger's syndrome, which, from what I can gather, is way for IT guys like us to behave like absolutely fucking pricks, and we just have to hold up the card "Asperger's" and everyone is supposed to accept our miserable attitude. Apserger also apparently extends to hacking into systems we have no business being in. Apparently, providing we have this wonderful social ineptitude disease, we don't face the consequences of any of our online actions.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I think I'm going to go out at lunch and kick some little old lady in the ass. "Asperger's!"

Did you really just have an uncalled for, violent, frothing rage at people with "social ineptitude disease"? You know, it pays to look both ways before crossing Irony Street.

Re:Loony (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42289077)

No, he's laughing at the people who think assburgers is a defense for committing crimes.

No, you're a twat. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42289343)

The difference is quite obvious.

You also appear to be both psychotic, violent and an ignorant moron.

You should be put in a nice comfy cell.

Re:No, you're a twat. (-1, Troll)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#42289475)

Ah, I see the Asperger's gang has come out to play. Wouldn't want anyone questioning their Get Out Of Jail free card, would they.

caused $800,000... (5, Funny)

Hagaric (2591241) | about 2 years ago | (#42287877)

Could he come & cause $800,000 to my computer system too? I could use the upgrade...

Re:caused $800,000... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42287913)

Only if you have evidence of UFOs

Re:caused $800,000... (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#42288149)

Sure I do, I run a secret international organization that fights against aliens.

Re:caused $800,000... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#42288567)

Huh? No you don't, I have never seen you in one of the meetings.

Re:caused $800,000... (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#42288891)

Well, duh. He's on the board of directors! Why would he go to any of the meetings?

Re:caused $800,000... (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#42288955)

I'm the guy behind the screen (terrible skin condition) shouting the orders at everyone. So who are you? The scientist or the engineer?

Re:caused $800,000... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42289421)

That's because he was talking about SETI, not the Aryan Brotherhood...

Re:caused $800,000... (5, Informative)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 2 years ago | (#42288215)

He didn't of course.

It's an outright lie by the US prosecutors, since they appear to lack any kind of moral fiber.

It's equivalent to having a burglar walking in the front door then the homeowner claiming costs for upgrading all the locks are due to the burglar.

Sure, they needed to trash and reinstall all of the machines. But they would have needed to do exactly that anyway when an internal audit showed they were insecure.

Re:caused $800,000... (5, Informative)

Grumbleduke (789126) | about 2 years ago | (#42288477)

For the record, according to one of the court rulings [bailii.org] he was accused of the following:

"Between February 2001 and March 2002 he gained unauthorised access to 97 computers belonging to and used by the US Government... From those computers, he extracted the identities of certain administrative accounts and associated passwords. Having gained access to those administrative accounts, he installed unauthorised remote access and administrative software called "remotely anywhere" that enabled him to access and alter data upon the American computers at any time and without detection by virtue of the programme masquerading as a Windows operating system.

Once "remotely anywhere" was installed, Mr McKinnon proceeded to install his "suite of hacking tools" – software that he used to facilitate further compromises to the computers which also facilitated the concealment of his activities. Using this software, he was able to scan over 73,000 US Government computers for other computers and networks susceptible to compromise in a similar fashion. He was thus able to lever himself from network to network and into a number of significant Government computers in different parts of the USA. The relevant ones were:

  1. 53 Army computers, including computers based in Virginia and Washington that controlled the Army's Military District of Washington network and are used in furtherance of national defence and security [charges 1 to 2]
  2. 26 Navy computers, including US Naval Weapons Station Earle, New Jersey. This was responsible for replenishing munitions and supplies for the deployed Atlantic Fleet [charges 6 to 8]
  3. 16 NASA computers [charges 12 to 15]
  4. 1 Department of Defense computer [charges 17 to 18].

Once the computers were accessible by Mr McKinnon, he deleted data including:

  1. Critical operating system files from nine computers, the deletion of which shut down the entire US Army's Military District of Washington network of over 2000 computers for 24 hours, significantly disrupting Governmental functions
  2. 2,455 user accounts on a US Army computer that controlled access to an Army computer network, causing those computers to reboot and become inoperable
  3. Critical Operating system files and logs from computers at US Naval Weapons Station Earle, one of which was used for monitoring the identity, location, physical condition, staffing and battle readiness of Navy ships. Deletion of these files rendered the Base's entire network of over 300 computers inoperable at a critical time immediately following 11 September 2001 and thereafter left the network vulnerable to other intruders.

He also copied data and files onto his own computers, including operating system files containing account names and encrypted passwords from 22 computers. These comprised:

  1. 189 files from US Army computers
  2. 35 files from US Navy computers, including approximately 950 passwords from server computers at Naval Weapons Station Earle
  3. 6 files from NASA computers

Mr McKinnon's conduct was intentional and calculated to influence and affect the US Government by intimidation and coercion. As a result of his conduct, damage was caused to computers by impairing their integrity, availability and operation of programmes, systems, information and data on the computers, rendering them unreliable. The cost of repair totalled over $700,000."

Slightly more than a burglar walking in the front door and claiming the costs of upgrading the locks. More like breaking in (maybe through a weak door), completely trashing the place and leaving.

Re:caused $800,000... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#42288591)

Judging from all that, I guess some CISO has a lot of explaining to do. He failed on all three fronts miserably.

Re:caused $800,000... (1)

citizenr (871508) | about 2 years ago | (#42289299)

Judging from all that, I guess some CISO has a lot of explaining to do. He failed on all three fronts miserably.

Awww how cute. You really thing IS in CISO stands for Information Security. I am going to enlighten you - it is just a misspelled JS as in Job Security.
CISOs main role is delegating responsibility, not securing infrastructure. Everything can be wide open and unsecure as long as you have a piece of paper stating someone else is responsible for it.

Re:caused $800,000... (3, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#42288637)

Did he damage all that crap? possibly so, if it ever went to court. Did he do stupid things involving computers? possibly so, if it ever went to court. Was it " intentional and calculated to influence and affect the US Government by intimidation and coercion"?
That's beyond laughable and imaginary hypothetical rhetoric, to say the least. It actually puts the US prosecutors into question as far as sanity.

Re:caused $800,000... (3, Informative)

Grumbleduke (789126) | about 2 years ago | (#42288757)

Was it " intentional and calculated to influence and affect the US Government by intimidation and coercion"?

Well the damage was obviously intentional, and it was calculated to influence the Government (even if it didn't) as evidenced by the note he admitted to leaving behind which read:

"US foreign policy is akin to Government-sponsored terrorism these days It was not a mistake that there was a huge security stand down on September 11 last year I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels "

That sounds rather like an attempt at intimidation and coercion (however pathetic) to me...

Re:caused $800,000... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42289363)

They are lawyers - they will say anything and do anything for money.

Re:caused $800,000... (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#42288643)

And yet, the UK prosecutor isn't charging him with anything. Could all that 'damage' have been made up by the US?

Re:caused $800,000... (3, Insightful)

Grumbleduke (789126) | about 2 years ago | (#42288821)

The UK prosecutor can't be bothered to charge him, because the damage wasn't done in the UK (so there isn't really any public interest in prosecuting) and the US didn't want to hand over all the (sensitive) evidence (of the details of all their military computer networks) to the UK authorities (for them to be made available in open court).

The CPS not bringing a case doesn't mean they think he's innocent, just that they don't think it's worth the trouble to try to prosecute him.

Re:caused $800,000... (1)

Shimbo (100005) | about 2 years ago | (#42289561)

The CPS not bringing a case doesn't mean they think he's innocent, just that they don't think it's worth the trouble to try to prosecute him.

That's pretty much the default attitude of the CPS; prosecution is really too much of a bother and expense. Police officers always say CPS stands for "Couldn’t Prosecute Satan". You need to keep that it mind when asking "why wasn't X charged?"

Re:caused $800,000... (3, Interesting)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 2 years ago | (#42288747)

OK, my analogy was flawed, so I'll switch to a non analogy.

They connected insecure systems to the internet.

The result is that they needed to inspect and repair all of those systems regardless of whether McKinnon existed or not.

The only reasonable response to finding the computers were potentially hacked would have been to put the entire lot offline instantly, no questions. What if it had been a much more competent foreign agent?

How did they know that a Chinese government hacker hadn't subtly altered the readiness logs of the ships [*] at Weapons station Earle? How did they know other logs were not already filled with subtly but much more dangerously flawed data?

Look, I'm not claiming what McKinnon did was good or right or legal.

But claiming that he caused those costs is simply not true.

They caused the costs through the most monumental security fuckup. The fault is entirely on them. McKinnon highlighted that they needed to spend the money RIGHT NOW to fix it.

[*] for fuck's sake! They had logs about battle readiness on warships on the open internet and editable by almost anyone and they have the temerity to blame their fuckup one lone nutball? Words fail me.

Re:caused $800,000... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42289381)

Apparently, words do not fail you.

Captain Explanation to the rescue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288583)

He's making fun of careless writing in TFS:

causing $800,000 (£487,000) to military computer systems

proofread a few lines only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42287903)

You accidentally the whole sentence:

"The U.S. authorities tried to extradite him to face charges of causing $800,000 (£487,000) to military computer systems..."

Re:proofread a few lines only? (4, Insightful)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | about 2 years ago | (#42287935)

Damages they are claiming though come from having to fix the vulnerabilites that let him in in the first place. That and the money spent on the legal bills for embarassing them.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288021)

Money better spent on a crazy British dude than the Chinese hackers who would have found the holes next.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (1, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#42288147)

No. Its the cost of having people scour the systems for any damage he causes, compare the data against backups to chance for changes, deletion and any programs he left behind, for tracking him.
This isn't One computer, it's a lot of computers on a lot of systems, and it costs money to have people do that work.
As well as possible legal bills.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 2 years ago | (#42288305)

and it costs money

It would have cost the same with or without McKinnon. Unless you think it's reasonable for them to leave unsecured computers connected to the net until such time as they happen to notice an exploit.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (2)

Grumbleduke (789126) | about 2 years ago | (#42288539)

McKinnon is accused of deleting a load of "critical system files" from a number of key military computers (shutting down various networks), along with over 2,000 user accounts from Army's Washington DC(?) network. They wouldn't have had to fix all of that without his interference.

As for the computers being unsecured, afaik there is no way to completely secure any network connected to the Internet, although I don't know how much work he had to do to break in.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (5, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 2 years ago | (#42288807)

They wouldn't have had to fix all of that without his interference.

Please NEVER EVER get a job in security.

Ever

Ever

Ever.

Once such important systems had even been found potentially compromised, they become entirely untrustworthy and cannot be used.

They noticed McKinnon by sheer blind luck.

If it had been a competent agent of Mossad or something they would never have noticed. Or by someone as competent as the guys that made Flame.

But the fact that they were wildly insecure meant that they would have had to shut down the entire system basically instantly and repair it.

They were bloody lucky it was McKinnon and not someone else.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (1)

Grumbleduke (789126) | about 2 years ago | (#42288895)

They would have had to shut down the computers/networks, but (and at this point I should declare that I'm not a computer security expert) presumably had they simply discovered the flaw, they could have taken them down in a controlled, scheduled way, and then combed through the stuff to check for problems at will. This way it seems the networks were crashed by McKinnon, which strikes me as being likely to cause much greater short-term problems and thus costs.

And no, I have no intention of getting a job in security; and I'm not saying this system was good, or that the US were not at all to blame - but that doesn't really matter in criminal prosecutions. The guy (allegedly) broke both UK and US laws by intentionally breaking in to some high-profile military computer networks and trashed them. That sounds fairly serious to me.

No, they would have had to taken them down NOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42289103)

There was operational data on some of those computers.

AS SOON AS the security breech was discovered, they would have had to take down the system IMMEDIATELY in case the system hadn't yet been noticed. Delay 5 seconds longer and that's long enough to copy a few MB of data off there.

That you think they should is indication of why you MUST NEVER work in security EVER.

IT IS NOT a reason why McKinnon did that damage, merely reason to be stark staring petrified of you EVER having ANYTHING to do with security.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#42289125)

Yes they would IF they were doing their jobs. As soon as it was found that someone from the outside could (even in theory) gain access to those machines, they were untrustworthy and needed to be wiped completely and re-installed. For all we know, actual enemies had been playing in those systems for quite a while and would still be there if not for McKinnon bumbling in and making noise.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#42288313)

Shouldn't all that work be done anyway? If they had an insecure system, then it might have been hacked by others before and after McKinon. So why should he bare all the blame for it?

Re:proofread a few lines only? (3, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | about 2 years ago | (#42288341)

Surely if you discovered computers important to national security were unprotected, were using default passwords allowing easy access, or hadn't been appropriately patched and maintained, you would have to treat these machines as potentially compromised whether or not you know someone had accessed them.

As a result, all the costs you mention, other than the legal ones, would necessarily have to be incurred anyway.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (1)

MtHuurne (602934) | about 2 years ago | (#42288441)

Wouldn't they have to check the systems anyway after discovering they were vulnerable? A break-in points out vulnerabilities in a system, but it is not the cause of those vulnerabilities and if one person can break in, others can as well.

If someone else had found the same vulnerabilities earlier and alerted them without breaking in, would that person be charged for the costs of reviewing the systems?

Re:proofread a few lines only? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#42288655)

Oh man....wait....it's almost like they *FIXED* this.

but yeah yeah collateral damages, etc etc. keep up the imagination there.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42289215)

All (minus legal bills) of which any IT group of a handful of people tops could do in a month. And guess what, you'd be able to hack off a zero from the end of their "damages" price tag.

You and I both know it, the vast majority of the sentence time and fine are the "making the US military look stupid again" tax. The annoying part is that it's so goddamn easy to do that, you have to be careful you don't do it accidentally.

Or maybe it was just that the military's lawyers cost $720,000, which given the utter insanity that is the US legal system, is entirely possible.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#42287937)

Bullshit numbers.

He may have cost them that much in man-hours to clean up the mess, but he most certainly didn't cause any physical damage.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288087)

I buy 3000 rolls of toilet paper drive to the middle of a busy interstate and dump them in a huge pile. I didnt cause any physical damage so therefore I am not guilty of anything. Is that your logic here? If someone had a fender bender because of it then I am guilty?

Look here is the facts he broke into someones computer (in this case the US gov). They then had to go thru and re-audit everything (as they are required to by law). Spending huge amounts of time (and money) checking things out that were otherwise fine. And remember contractors are not paid 10 bucks an hour (the people most likely doing it). They are paid 50+ per hour...

They are probably dropping it because the other side doesnt want to bother with it but wanted a way out as they buy the guys story. The US and the UK are BFF's... You are right he did not do much harm but did waste lots of peoples time.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#42288123)

That was an awfully long way to say "yep, I agree."

Re:proofread a few lines only? (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#42288475)

You get drunk and hit someone with your car. Are you also responsible for the careful search of all the other roads in your state, since it's possible you've also hit someone else so they might be lying in a ditch somewhere?

He's responsible for what he DID - break into a computer, not really a major crime when you think of it. He's not responsible for the costs of checking if he did anything else. Once it's been revealed that the system had crap security, that check should have been done anyway - how many other hackers might have exploited the same security holes before McKinon?

Re:proofread a few lines only? (1)

Grumbleduke (789126) | about 2 years ago | (#42288695)

He's responsible for what he DID - break into a computer

Actually it was 97 computers (possibly 96). From which he was* able to access a further 73,000 networked, US Government computers. He shut down "the entire US Army's Military District of Washington network of over 2000 computers for 24 hours", and rendered some 300 computers at US Naval Weapons Station Earle inoperable for a while, including one "used for monitoring the identity, location, physical condition, staffing and battle readiness of Navy ships." Oh, and he installed a "suite of hacking tools" on the computers he did access to make it easier for him (and anyone else) to gain access to them in the future.

But yes, that's just like breaking into a single computer...

*Please insert the word "allegedly" as appropriate throughout. As this will never go to trial, we will probably never know what actually happened.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42289587)

And if he did nothing at all, they would still have to pay all of those claimed costs to repair their infrastructure. If there is a vulnerability found in your systems you assume that all machines connected are compromised and shut them down to be fixed. The fact that he was dicking around in the computers prior to their discovery of the flaw has no bearing on how much they needed to pay; that should be considered a fixed cost of upgrading a serious vulnerability that **they** left through their own negligence and incompetence.

All he is guilty of is poking around on classified networks, to which 60 years seems like a ludicruously unreasonable sentence given the circumstances of the "attack." A 12 year old kid wanting to play a nice game of chess could have broken past these simple defenses they had in place. If anything, they should be thanking the guy because the alternative was an actual threat that knows what they are doing using that vulnerability to gain undetected access to the systems.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42289551)

break into a computer, not really a major crime when you think of it.

Oh cool can I pick the lock on your front door of your house walk around not doing much. Then leave. Would you be cool with that? But I 'only' did it to YOUR house no big deal right? Hell not even really a crime. No you would consider it a breaking and an entering and call the cops.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (1)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | about 2 years ago | (#42289731)

I buy 3000 rolls of toilet paper drive to the middle of a busy interstate and dump them in a huge pile.

Please take photos!

Re:proofread a few lines only? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#42288169)

How do you know that? hmm?

Re:proofread a few lines only? (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 2 years ago | (#42288257)

He may have cost them that much in man-hours to clean up the mess, but he most certainly didn't cause any physical damage.

Not entirely.

It would have cost them that much to clean up the mess when in the absence of McKinnon an internal audit had shown that all those systems were insecure and potentially hacked by neferaious foreign national spies.

The machines were insecure and needed fixing.

That is the case whether or not the flaw was highlighted by McKinnon.

I'm not claiming he's the good guy in this (though they should thank their lucky stars it was a UFO seeking nutball, not a Chinese government operative in those systems). But to claim he caused the damage is disengenuous.

I repeat: the machines were already damages with or without McKinnon.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288325)

True, the numbers are not his doing.

Nevertheless, he should have gone to jail/probation/whatever or gotten mental help for actually going into those systems. Just because I don't lock my front door does not give anyone the right to walk in and start rifling through my paperwork. There do need to be penalties for that sort of behavior.

Re:proofread a few lines only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42287945)

"...$800,000 of necessary security hardening to military..."?

The basic fact is that the "military computer systems" were not secured in a suitable manner, when they should have been.

Is he free? (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#42287929)

So if he's not getting extradited, and there are no charges in the UK, is McKinnon a free man?

Re:Is he free? (3, Funny)

schneidafunk (795759) | about 2 years ago | (#42288007)

They're having him work for SETI.

Re:Is he free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288705)

They're having him work for SETI.

Oh irony of ironies if Gary McKinnon himself turns out to be the very LGM [wikipedia.org] Gary was looking for...

Re:Is he free? (1)

xaxa (988988) | about 2 years ago | (#42288011)

So if he's not getting extradited, and there are no charges in the UK, is McKinnon a free man?

Yes, I think so. That's what not being charged generally means (if that sounds sarcastic it's not supposed to be -- simply IANAL.)

"... will not face charges in the UK, bringing to an end a 10-year legal battle."

"Janis Sharp, Mr McKinnon's mother, said the news was "amazing" and she was grateful the case was "all over now".

Re:Is he free? (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#42289041)

Aren't there laws in the UK that allow holding 'suspected terrorists' for as long as they want? So not getting charged may not mean much.

Re:Is he free? (3, Informative)

xaxa (988988) | about 2 years ago | (#42289359)

Aren't there laws in the UK that allow holding 'suspected terrorists' for as long as they want? So not getting charged may not mean much.

No. For "terrorism" it's 14 days, after a reduction from 28, and an attempt by the government to increase it to 42. See https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/human-rights/terrorism/extended-pre-charge-detention/index.php [liberty-hu...hts.org.uk]

See http://www.yourrights.org.uk/yourrights/the-rights-of-suspects/police-powers-of-arrest/police-detention.html [yourrights.org.uk] for the case for normal offences (24 hours, possibly extension to 36).

Re:Is he free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288055)

I believe he is a free man. IMHO this situation is wrong - he did something wrong (and even admitted to it) and doesn't have to face the consequences.

Re:Is he free? (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#42288189)

I guess the wrong thing wasn't illegal then. At least not in the place where he did it.

Re:Is he free? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#42289193)

He faced 10 years of extradition hearings with the threat of being extradited to a less civilized legal system hanging over his head. There were consequences and he has faced them.

Re:Is he free? (4, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#42288073)

So long as he stays in the UK, yes. The US still has an extradition warrant against him, so if he travels to another country he could be extradited from there (although it would depend on the judgment of those courts). Traveling to the US would obviously get him arrested.

Re:Is he free? (4, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#42288183)

Maybe he will be abducted~

Re:Is he free? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#42288529)

It would be a waste of time and money. They already taught him his lesson by putting him through the process.

He will be watched for the rest of his life, however.

Re:Is he free? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#42288633)

Waste of time and money? You're talking about the country that has two rather pointless wars running, you think they care about a waste of time and money?

Re:Is he free? (2)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#42288889)

Yes, I do think that. You seem to be of the opinion that the US government is going to extra-judicially abduct a public figure from an allied country for a minor offense. They might do that if he was some faceless terrorist in Yemen who they can't keep tabs on easily, but for a British nutcase? It's not worth the trouble. Do you know how many people they would have to abduct if they did they for every extradition charge that beat their rap?

You only need to abduct people who you can't use the system to deal with. Iraq and Afghanistan are outside that system, and so the gloves have to come off there if they want to get their way. It may seem like they are wasting money to you, but I assure you, for the right people, it was money well spent. There is no return on investment in abducting this crackpot.

Re:Is he free? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288219)

He also needs to stay away from any of the US Bases in the UK.
Then again the MiB (US Gov Issue) might be trying to whisk him away to Gitmo and let him spend 10 years there without access to counsel, charges or any prospect of release.

For our US readers, there are prisoners in the GULAG called GITMO who's release has been signed by the President yet they are still getting beatings on an almost daily basis. One has been there for more than 10 years without charge. There is no evidence against him and his country of citizenship is willing to have him back yet the US authourities are ignoring the wishes of the President who I might remind you, is Commander in Chief and keeping him incarcerated.

Is the US the paragon of Justice? I think not.

Re:Is he free? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288465)

Yeah, beatings on a daily basis? AFTER the release was signed by the President? Well, if the President can't release him, just who do you think is in charge of Gitmo? The Overarching Alien Conspiracy?

And again, you don't charge enemy combatants who are taken on a battlefield in a foreign country. They didn't break any law that is on the books of the US. They fought against US military forces and were not killed immediately. The closest thing they are to anything is a POW, but you can't be a POW without a country or organization that recognizes the rules of war behind them. You let them go, they'll just start shooting again after a short period of time, as many Gitmo releases have done. Better to leave them in Gitmo until they rot or their country of origin can finally keep them from offending again.

Re:Is he free? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288737)

If the detainee are all wrong evil muslim terrorists, why fear giving them a trial and follow a proper procedure to punish them?

Re:Is he free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288603)

If I was him I would try to change my identity and start a new life. If there's one thing that history has taught us about coercive authority (aka "government"), it's that coercive authority is NEVER to be trusted.

Not for long (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 2 years ago | (#42289401)

So if he's not getting extradited, and there are no charges in the UK, is McKinnon a free man?

Only until he pops up on Seal Team 6's list.

Reverse the charges (4, Insightful)

FrostedWheat (172733) | about 2 years ago | (#42288141)

Right, so the real people responsible will be charged now? The ones who left seriously insecure military computers connected to the internet? </naive>

Re:Reverse the charges (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288291)

No. They might be (partially) responsible, but they did not commit the crime.
If I leave my door unlocked and someone steals stuff from my house, my insurance company might refuse to pay, but it will still be the burglar, not me, who committed a crime and can be charged with it.

Re:Reverse the charges (1)

PIBM (588930) | about 2 years ago | (#42288389)

We are talking about a military organisation. This is their REQUIREMENT of being secure. What would you say if they had provided a google map interface to launch nukes (click where you want it to detonate!) and a little kid found this nice little game and nuked the western half of the country ? Still the kids fault ??

Re:Reverse the charges (1)

N!k0N (883435) | about 2 years ago | (#42288617)

We are talking about a military organisation. This is their REQUIREMENT of being secure. What would you say if they had provided a google map interface to launch nukes (click where you want it to detonate!) and a little kid found this nice little game and nuked the western half of the country ? Still the kids fault ??

Wasn't there a movie about this once?

Re:Reverse the charges (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#42288745)

Hey, all he wanted to do is play a nice game of chess.

Re:Reverse the charges (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288813)

The military may be charged with negligence or what-have-you but the kid is still the one breaking in to the system and launching the nukes.

Re:Reverse the charges (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#42288735)

It depends on the severity of the negligence to say for sure whether some of the blame is to be put on the CISO. One thing is certain, he dropped the ball seriously here. If he had been working for me, he'd have been looking for a new job (or some rope) the next day.

Especially in an environment where security is one of the key assets, things like this MUST NOT happen. At the very least, they MUST NOT happen for such a long time. Getting into a lesser important security area, ok. But at the very least it has to stop right there. Especially from what it looks like the US government relies on some sort of "bouncer security". Once you're in the club, nobody bothers to check your ID anymore, so sneak in through the back door and nobody cares you're not 18.

This is absolutely unacceptable for a high security environment. Especially that he could install software without raising any kind of warning.

Re:Reverse the charges (1)

Spottywot (1910658) | about 2 years ago | (#42288359)

That's hilarious it really is, I love the idea of the CPS trying to prosecute the Pentegon for running an insecure network :) I know that's not what you meant, but the fact is the Pentagon still think he is 'one of the most dangerous hackers of all time' and would still love to hold him responsible for their own deficiencies. An epic case of deferring responsibility if ever there was one.

Re:Reverse the charges (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#42288661)

You don't charge people who made mistakes in their jobs unless they did so with criminal intent, and I encourage you to attempt to prove that in a court of law. They can be fired or demoted or have nothing whatever happen to them at all. Although someone clearly failed in their job, and possibly should be fired, responsibility was probably shared in small parts by dozens of people who were lax at their jobs. Such is the problems with having a huge government bureaucracy: huge problems, and no one person to reasonably or easily hold accountable for them.

Either way, the only real criminal here is McKinnon, as he entered a system that he had no business entering, which there is no reasonable excuse for him to have done. The fact they attempted to get their hands on him for trial was proper, he broke a law in the US and there is an extradition treaty. The actual charges were entirely overblown, but that doesn't mean he isn't guilty of the basic offense.

Re:Reverse the charges (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288941)

The fact they attempted to get their hands on him for trial was proper, he broke a law in the US and there is an extradition treaty.

No, he broke a law in the UK, because... (*drumroll*) HE WAS IN THE UK.

Re:Reverse the charges (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#42289293)

Awkward language. I meant to say he broke a US law, and there is an extradition treaty that allows people to be extradited from the UK for breaking US laws.

And sure, he was in the UK at the time. That doesn't matter except that he can't be taken immediately into custody from the UK. He still broke a US law and entered a system based in the US. It's going to be a hard thing to argue that the US has no right to go after people who break into US government systems that are hosted on US soil just because they did so remotely.

I know that we are all going to be up in arms about arresting foreign nationals for things that they did from other countries, but there does exist a concept that is known as extraterritorial law. It's not without controversy, but it's hardly a new idea.

Treaties suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288247)

Treaties trump local and federal laws and reasonable suspicion. Once you have a treaty, you must do as treaty says, even if it is wrong. If you do not, then you nation is a scum-bag and the other nation can decide to not honor treaties also. Personally I believe we have too many frivolous treaties. More treaties need to be dishonored, the true nature of nations needs to be exposed. The USA has too many things that benefit corporations and even it's own government. The rest of the sum bag nations need to be exposed also.

ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288293)

I didn't know accessing a database and reading some files could cause $800 000 worth of damage, seems reasonable.

Re:ok (1)

Grumbleduke (789126) | about 2 years ago | (#42288587)

It's possible deleting a load of critical system files (shutting down various military networks) and removing over 2,000 user accounts may have caused some of the damage (both long-term costs of replacing, and call-out fees for technicians during the short-term panic of working out what was going). If you want more details of what he is accused of, read the first few paragraphs of this judgment [bailii.org] .

Re:ok (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#42288779)

It can. Not directly by damaging files, but indirectly by requiring a verification on all those files because they COULD have been tampered with. Now all it takes is a LOT of data with originals stowed in some hard to reach place and you're getting there.

The guilty ones (2)

edibobb (113989) | about 2 years ago | (#42288315)

If anyone should be punished, it's those incompetents who did not secure the computers in the first place. It's like leaving the door to the office building unlocked and unguarded. There's nothing like a foreign scapegoat to distract the news media.

Re:The guilty ones (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#42288867)

My guess is that any investigation into this security SNAFU would end up uncovering a memo stating something like 'We've finished securing the network using the full $10.25 granted by congress. Please dedicate more funds next year.' After that any investigation would suddenly find itself without funds and be quickly shut down.

Re:The guilty ones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42289003)

If I leave my house unlocked and someone comes in and takes all my stuff while I'm out, should I be charged with robbery and the actual robber let off scot-free?

You had nothing stolen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42289183)

You had nothing stolen, so the robber was not stealing.

The front door had "Welcome" written on it.

You are not going to manage to get the bloke who walked in, read your newspaper and walked out again who was under the impression this was an open lounge done for burglary.

And in your case, you would not be insured, so you would NOT get damages back for having to replace things or put locks on your doors and windows.

So even in your bad analogy, what the USA tried to do would be illegal (fraudulent claim against insurance for your analogy).

But in this case, it wasn't even burglary.

A reason breaking is separate from entering (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 2 years ago | (#42289459)

Look, clearly you're new to this whole thing, because the whole "it was unlocked" crap has been trotted around here since 1998 or so. 1)Trespass is still a crime. Further, breaking and entering requires only pushing open a closed door - it doesn't have to be locked. They're still separate crimes. If someone's front door is open but you don't belong in their house, you're still "entering" and committing trespass, which is illegal, and has been since common law times. 2)He didn't just enter the systems, he modified them, destroyed both data and functionality, and installed spying software.

So, I guess this is what it takes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288525)

...to be banned in real life.

No USA trips for him any time ever.

he guessed the passwords (2)

alices ice (699932) | about 2 years ago | (#42288565)

he also admitted his "hacking" was almost entirely limited to guessing default or super weak (12345) passwords- this is actually farcical. they have to paint him as some Asperger super hacker to stop themselves looking like idiots

Good thing... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288913)

...his name is Gary McKinnon and not say, Babar Ahmad...

WASTED TIME . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288981)

all this time everyone's been watching this case and worrying, oh man I hope I don't get in trouble for hacking or pissing off the wrong powers that be.

Further.
It nipped the UFO discussion/hacking talk in the bud. Fear effect.

All it did was dumb us down, pushing shit back ten years, am I glad his already fucked up life won't be fucked up further? Sure I am, but in the big picture none of this hacking crap matters because it was all a pile of bullshit black ops from the start. To scare would be hacker/crackers

THIS FEAR HAS WASTED 10 YEARS AND ALLOWED A POLICE STATE IN

This is Dumb (1)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about 2 years ago | (#42289373)

Hack into a foreign government's computer system and cause $800k worth of damage, violating international laws in the process? Extradition is blocked.

But if you're Richard O'Dwyer and do something completely legal in the UK and causing no direct monetary damage? Theresa May goes out of her way to bend over and let Uncle Sam do his dirty work.

The difference? One guy was looking for UFOs, the other had a website that had links to pirated content. Logic, right?

My feelings could be summed quite well by a lovable Tim Minchin [youtu.be]

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