It's like that crappy 1990s Hackers movie was real.
You know the story: Zero Cool was a dastardly 11 year old kid who took down a bunch of computers and caused the New York Stock Exchange to drop in 1988. He's arrested and sentenced to stay away from computers until he's 18 years old. Wait, that's just the set up for Hackers.
Sorry, I was confused for a second there and that's because nearly the exact same scenario happened to a teenager from California last week, except he was sentenced to six years away from a keyboard. The kid hacker - known as Cosmo the God - formed a group called UG Nazi to ostensibly protest against the SOPA legislation proposed earlier this year. He organized takedowns of NASDAQ, CIA.gov, and UFC.com, and conceived new social engineering tricks to gain access to all kinds of information such as user accounts at Amazon and PayPal. Arrested in June, a judge forewent a prison sentence for Cosmo and instead ordered that he couldn't use a computer or the internet for six years without written permission. Cosmo will be 21 years old when his probation ends.
Of course, there are some who think the judgement was too severe. "Ostensibly they could have locked him up for three years straight and then released him on juvenile parole," said Jay Leiderman, a lawyer who has defended hackers like Cosmo in the past.
"To keep someone off the Internet for six years - that one term seems unduly harsh. You're talking about a really bright, gifted kid in terms of all things Internet. And at some point after getting on the right path he could do some really good things. I feel that monitored Internet access for six years is a bit on the hefty side. It could sideline his whole life-his career path, his art, his skills.
"At some level it's like taking away Mozart's piano," the lawyer said.
Now before you say that you need to use the internet or a computer to even function in most schools, part of Cosmo's judgement allows him to use sanctioned devices for purely educational purposes. He has to disclose every device he owns that's able to connect to a network, and must be supervised whenever he accesses the internet to make sure he is only using the information to write papers or research history.