Feds seek public input on hacker sentencing

Monday, 13 January 2003, 11:21 AM EST

Sick and tired of a revolving door justice system that lets hackers skate with just a few measly years in prison? Or do you think that the courts are already too hard on online miscreants who sometimes go up the creek for longer than many killers?

Either way, the U.S. government wants to hear from you.

Last week the presidential-appointed commission responsible for setting federal sentencing rules formally asked the public's advice on the formula used to sentence hackers and virus writers to prison or probation, as part of a review ordered by lawmakers increasingly concerned that computer criminals are getting off easy.

"All we're really looking for is for people to comment," says Michael O'Neill, a law professor at George Mason University Law School, and a member of the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC). "Do they think we're going down the wrong road? How do they feel about the penalty structure?"

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