Cybercriminals, Beware!

New Internationalist, October 2007 | Go to article overview

Cybercriminals, Beware!


Next time you're downloading a film or music through the internet, spare a thought for Australian resident Hew Griffiths, 44 years old, unemployed and now languishing in a jail half a world away from his home. Unlike most of the other inmates, he's not there for doing drugs, theft or assault. Rather, his crime was to belong to a group that cracked security codes of some of the United States' biggest media moguls, getting free access to software and games. And while Australian authorities did not charge him, they nevertheless complied with a US request to extradite him to stand trial for crimes against 'intellectual property'.

In June this year Hew was judged by a Virginian court and sentenced to more than four years in jail; shunted into a cell meant for two men in which three are actually forced to sleep. But Hew is only the first person caught up in a disturbing new trend. Following in the traditions established at Guantanamo Bay, the US is putting the world on notice that borders will not limit their prosecution and punishment of copyright crimes. …

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