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Senator's Net-legislation would jail school-kids

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A low-brow publicity stunt masquerading as a legislative measure called the School Website Protection Act of 2001 by US Senator Robert Torricelli (Democrat, New Jersey) would define criminal hacking as any action, even a harmless action, which "affects or impairs without authorization a computer of an elementary school or secondary school or institution of higher education."

Torricelli is tough on juvenile crime, and he adores schools. Get it, voters?

The broadness here created by the word 'affects' is pure Kafka. This might criminalize a harmless prank, the installing of a game, or the sending of unsolicited e-mail. Violators could get shut up in federal prison for up to 10 years.

"Computer hackers who prey upon unsuspecting schools, striking fear in the hearts of entire communities with threats of violence, cannot go unpunished," he declared.

'Striking fear in the hearts of entire communities' indeed. Because a New Jersey high school's Web site was recently defaced with a few Columbine-esque threats, Torricelli has seen an opportunity to whip up fear in hopes of attracting headlines and press coverage for himself.

Naturally, we were only too happy to oblige. ®

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