Privacy schmivacy (part 2)

(Divided this rant into two posts because it
seemed more organized that way)

We have become a wussy, absurd society obsessed with privacy.

The Sarah Palin hacker trial is currently underway in Knoxville. From what I hear, it will remain underway for another two or three weeks. The federal government is trying to put a UT kid behind bars for roughly thirty years for deducing the answers to Sarah Palin’s email security questions and looking at her personal, pointless emails and then posting some of them on the internet.

My thirty-years estimate is based off news reports and my own cursory analysis. Supposedly, the defendant is charged with violating 18 U.S.C. 1343 (wire fraud), 18 U.S.C. 1028 (identity theft), 18 U.S.C. 1030 (generic hacking), 18 U.S.C. 2701 (generic hacking), 18 U.S.C. 1510 (obstruction of a federal investigation). Adding up the sentencing points for these crimes and classifying the defendant as a first-offender, he should get somewhere around 40 points if convicted. That means a sentence between 292 and 365 months in prison. Federal prisons don’t give parole or time off for good behavior.

According to the News Sentinel, Bristol Palin took the stand this week and complained that she got lots of phone calls after the “hacker” posted her phone number on the internet. Boo hoo.  Why don’t you go live in a freakin’ cave if you don’t want people to know your phone number. Grow up.

I am so sick of these little children ruining our society. Murder, that’s a real felony. Armed robbery is another one. Or how about just stealing a lot of money, or committing aggravated perjury (a serious felony in my opinion which is not punished adequately). But these people are more concerned about getting phone calls from “creepy” guys they don’t know, or having all their terribly “personal” information released to the world.

UPDATE — 04-28-2010 — CORRECTIONS: 

The jury began deliberating yesterday — a good bit sooner than expected, although the trial had already lasted a full week, which seems rather long to me. Apparently the defendant chose not to testify so I guess that at least shortened things a little. Todd Palin didn’t testify, either.

After the jury began deliberating, I decided to recheck my calculations above and fortunately (for the defendant) noticed an legal error. Specifically, while it is often the rule that the Sentencing Guidelines will add up the points from multiple counts, in this case the charges were all so interrelated that the Guidelines would require examining only the sentencing level of the most serious conviction. Hence, the sentencing total would likely be 23 rather than 40. (Start with a base level of 14 for “obstruction of justice,” the weightiest charge, and then add 2 for the substantial importance of the trashed computer, then add 3 because Palin was a government official, then add 4 because the “hacking” involved more than five participants led by the defendant.)

In conclusion, the student will likely receive 46-57 months in federal prison if convicted of the charges — time spent without any parole or good time off. Although this new amount is substantially less than I first calculated, 4.5 years in prison still seems rather extreme. Genuine thugs who commit armed robbery often spend less jail time. But of course, we’ve got to protect privacy

Heh, I wish society would get this gung-ho about protecting property.


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