re: Should LulzSec Suspect Face Life In Prison?
From the perspective of an Ethical Hacker, employed currently by the government, I have mixed feelings about this.
While I believe that this is a total misuse of intelligence, to call any hacker a moron is to invite an avalanche of cyber-attacks. Most *real* hackers (not script kiddies) are extremely intelligent people, although often more than just a bit anti-social.
My personal issue with this sort of activity is the harm it causes to others beyond the target, such as theft of credit card numbers that result in individual lives being affected due to ruined credit and all the nastiness that comes with that.
On the flip-side of this, I also feel that in this day and age of cyber-warfare, the rise of the surveillance-state, the loss of personal liberties (that were really privileges, not rights), and the intrusiveness of state-actors in the ongoing (so-called) war on terror... hacking skills are tantamount to survival skills in some ways... basically an evolution of self protection. But, that's where it all falls down because most of the people that have the skills that in turn use those skills to commit crimes are more often than not, doing so for personal gain (financial, glory, or what-have-you).
More often than not, law enforcement tends to handle hackers like they are mass-murderers, until it gets around to sentencing, and the perpetrator serving out their sentence... since these people are generally non-violent offenders, they tend to do less actual time than their sentence implies. But, the social effect carries over to the public mindset, effectively bringing out types like "OldUberGoober" (go figure) that are practically screaming "Burn the heretic!". The witch-hunt mentality at its finest.
So, no... I don't believe any hacker should face life imprisonment, unless their activities cause actual loss of life. Now... apply that to the creators of StuxNet, or any other government sponsored cyber warfare suite designed to cripple enemy infrastructure. Do you think that those employees or contractors at the NSA, CIA, and MOSAD deserve life imprisonment for creating those tools? What if those tools save millions of lives due to crippling a very anti-social regime's nuclear program? How is that any different than someone who is disenfranchised and oppressed, using the same types of tools and attacks to infiltrate what they perceive as their enemy? What? Is the common man any less important than the imposed government that oppresses him? No... while I don't believe we should give these people a pat on the back, or a slap on the wrists, I don't think we should treat their crimes along the same lines that we use for prosecuting physical world crimes. Unfortunately, this tit-for-tat warfare only serves the purposes of those who would oppress everyone's freedoms that much farther, because it gives justification for more and more draconian laws to be passed.
"Naturally, the common people don't want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. Tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifist for lack of patriotism and endangering the country. It works the same in every country." - Herman Goering, Hitler's Reichsmarschall at the Nuremberg Trials