Monday, May 15, 2006

Court of Appeal Denial of Service Shock Horror

.. well maybe if you're a DoS geek like me:-)

The Court of Appeal has ruled that a judge was wrong to throw out the case of a UK teenager accused of crashing a mail server with millions of emails. David Lennon, who is now 18 and can therefore be named for the first time, is alleged to have used a mail bombing programme called Avalanche to send approximately five million emails to his former employers, in early 2004, crashing the company's email server.

The case against him, brought under the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) 1990, was dismissed last November by District Judge Kenneth Grant at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court. Judge Grant had said that Section 3 of the Act, which concerns unauthorised modification of data, had not been breached, as emails sent to a server configured to receive emails could not be classified as unauthorised.

But on Thursday, judges at the Royal Courts of Justice sent the case back to the Magistrates Court, saying Judge Grant "was not right to state there was no case to answer". Mr Justice Jack said the judge should consider "what answer Mr Lennon might have expected if he had asked D&G" before starting the mail bombing.

This last sentence is terribly interesting. Yes, it blows the "authorised" act defense out the water, therefore saving the bacon of the CMA amendments on DoS curently wending their way through Parliamant and cricised extensively here for NOT plugging this particular loophole.

But this time the hole which is plugged is far too wide (oh my we are in the land of mixed metaphors, aren't we?) This potentially means, IMHO, that every unwanted search engine spider that traverses a site; every price comparison engine which comes sniffing to collect info the site would rather not give away to its competitors, but has to leave public for its customers; every deep linker who plans to put a link in to enhance their own site's content, but thereby cut out the ads and branding on the home page of the content originator -- has suddenly now committed a criminal act.

Welcome to the UK. Trespass to websites , long controversial even in the US of A as a civil wrong, has just become a crime in the UK :-)

((Ps. BlogScript is writing a family law book. It will re appear in a shower of exciting commentary in about two weeks, with a change of name and even of image!! be there or be orthogonal!))