Lawyers: Hackers sentenced too harshly

Friday, 21 February 2003, 3:26 PM EST

The US' largest group of defence lawyers on Wednesday published a position paper arguing that people convicted of computer-related crimes tend to get stiffer sentences than comparable non-computer-related offenses.

The paper -- signed by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit group that focusses on perceived injustices in penalties -- criticised today's sentences for computer crimes because they frequently exceed the seriousness of the crime and rely on damage figures that can be easily inflated.

"The serious nature of offenses is overplayed," said Jennifer Granick, author of the paper and clinical director at Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society. "The (majority) of the offenses are generally disgruntled employees getting back at the employer or trying to make money."

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