back to article Court upholds 'hacking' charge against smut-surfing worker

A US court has turned down an appeal from a man convicted of computer hacking offences for using a workplace computer to post nude pictures of himself onto a swingers website. Richard Wolf used his work PC to upload naked pics of himself to show prospective buddies through the Adult Friend Finder website, as well as surfing …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Comment on ‘Court upholds 'hacking' charge against smut-surfing worker’

    "When you use the heavy hand of the criminal law to prosecute inappropriate behavior, it’s just an abuse of the criminal statutes."

    Quote of the year. He should have just been fired, unless they specifically told him not to surf porn sites while at work.

    Now where did I put that link to Paris' vid...

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Wow Democracy?

    How is browsing porn at work a criminal offence?

    Also how does it constitute hacking

    This is such a stupid case. No wonder nobody likes USA

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is just ridiculous

    the correct response to this is everyone increasing salary and rate because of the liability of using a computer at work, it is more of a risk, how do you know what is allowed and what isn't.

    Danger money for those who use computers at work, oh and adequate training, if you cannot write your own compiler and kernel no computer, back to the abacus with you.

  4. gollux

    Fairness in violation...

    At least he wasn't texting while operating a moving trolly that proceded to run into a parked trolly.

  5. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Exceeding scope of authorisation

    "Rasch highlighted concerns that the earlier scope of US anti-hacking law - which only covered unauthorized access, or breaking into a computer - had been amended to cover "exceeding the scope of authorization to access a computer"."

    If I surf to a web site, I have remotely accessed the server. If I then use some sort of remotely exploitable privilege escalation, the average jury would have no problem with describing me as a hacker. Rasch's distinction between hacking and exceeding authorisation simply makes no sense when just about every computer larger than a palm top has an OS that enforces multiple levels of authorisation.

    Neither does it make any difference that the defendant didn't have to break some clever security to achieve his ends. If I leave my front door open, it is still theft if you walk in and nick my telly.

    One can argue whether the sentence isn't too harsh, but he didn't have permission to do what he did with a system that belonged to someone else when he was supposed to be doing something else.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    He was just tired of taking crap at work?

    I'll show myself out....

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Crazy People!

    Ok, he's an idiot, but so are the people who put together a law which can be used to prosecute you for hacking if you go to to look for a florist's telephone number to send flowers to your wife.

    Was the access required for your work duties? No? Then you exceeded your authorisation, hacked our system and its off to jail with you!

    If this is a criminal investigation, with the police rather than the company driving it, surely he can think of a time his boss visited a non-work website? Subpoena, discovery and another conviction shouldn't be too hard.

  8. Michael

    Sounds like an interesting guy..

    ...hmm ! If Three Strikes becomes statutary, how much of an increase in this "sort of thing" (apologies to Father Ted) will occur in the future? ...and how many by Tory MP's?

    .... Have Popcorn handy, await results!!!!!

  9. James Butler

    It's Pretty Simple

    In the USA, if such activity was banned in the company's Employee Manual, then he violated that rule and is therefore subject to termination. The 'hacking' charge might still be tested. However if there is no Employee Manual to refer to, or if there is one, but it doesn't contain language banning the type of activity he was convicted of, then the company has no recourse except to change the Manual for future cases. Straight up. No Employee Manual = no violation.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Plant study

    "If somebody else had been on an internet site studying horticulture, I don’t think he would have been prosecuted."

    Yes, but obviously *whoreticulture* is a different story.

    ...I'm leaving, I'm leaving...

  11. Ryan Barrett

    Waste of tax dollars..

    Public service suing an employee for something which is an internal problem.

    Then the courts sentencing him to prision time? For visiting websites which are lawful?

    If I was an Ohio tax payer I'd be wanting to know why my taxes are being wasted on something which quite obviously has nothing to do with the "crime" committed.

  12. Hate2Register

    Termination. Why no chop his manhood off?

    "His uploading of nude pictures is certainly inappropriate and something he could be terminated for, but it was perfectly legal,"

    Indeed. Being terminated is a just and noble punishment for this heinous offender. Further, he should face surgical castration, surely not a rare or unusual punishment. A nice touch would be to make him carry around his removed testiculi, as a warning "pour les autres".

    But really: A warning for employees not to use their work computers. At least in the United Spates of Amnesia. In Europe, we all use work computers to make sexy time. A human right, methinks.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What if the pictures weren't nude?

    "Ohio State law including unauthorised access to a computer (ie computer hacking), theft of services in office (because he wasted city time to surf for porn)"

    What if they searched his computer and found 700 NON NUDE photos of racing cars? Surely that is also unauthorised access to a computer and also theft of service in office. Indeed what if it was anything that was equally disallowed, e.g. Facebook use.

    I suspect they have taken their moral stance against pornography (Ohio FFS), they twisted a law to back their moral view. But in doing so they make the law silly and broad.

    Did they not install a filter?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    And I will bet......

    the Judge is a total pervert into the bargain !. Just shows that there are similarities between UK and USA, we both have a bunch of wankers ,if thats the appropriate word, as Judges.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    the united soviets of america

    nuff said.

  16. Neoc
    Thumb Down


    Nah, sorry, not hacking. Had he used proxy, bypassed his firm's blocking software or done anything else to circumvent safeguards in order to post his pictures then I'd probably agree that there's the possibility of a tenuous hacking charge.

    But simply accessing the work computer and posting the pictures? That shows stupidity, not hacking skills.

  17. Rich

    So it's a crime to waste time at work

    So the US didn't abolish slavery after the Civil War then..

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    This is ridiculous

    I guess this sort of utter stupidity is to be expected when decades have been spent dumbing down ones population.

    The guy is stupid for doing this at work.

    The judiciary is stupid for thinking that a custodial sentence was warranted for this 'crime'.

    (Right, I am back to sit in front of the TV, there's a 'reality' TV series that I MUST cerebrally imbibe.)

  19. Dan


    Assume: The computer had internet access. He was permitted to use the computer. Therefore, he was permitted to use the computer to access the internet, send and receive packets.

    Once a packet leaves his employer's network, it cannot violate any access limits set by his employer. Therefore, sending packets to is not hacking his work computer any more than sending packets to the DNS lookup server.

    Therefore: He was not permitted to use the computer to access the internet. If we assume that it was configured for automatic updates, he was not permitted to log on, since that would cause packets to be sent and received outside the company network. Therefore, he was not permitted to use the computer AT ALL. That's the only logical cause of the courts' decisions.

    And they found 700+ photos in "Routine maintenance"? Either he was VERY careless, or "Routine maintenance" is a euphemism for "Spying on internet histories and user activities".

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    That was where?

    When I first read this I sort of automatically assumed this happened somewhere in the UK, what with all of the idiotic laws about extreme porn and fucking sandwich meats you guys have over there. I was kind of shocked when I realized it happened here in the states, was the judge British or something?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    What a prat!

    Sorry but it clearly states in most workplace joining contracts what you are or are not allowed to do!

    We have filters and proxies all over the shop where I work. So even though it's against company policy anyway the temptation to do it is also removed as we block practically everything except news sites, we pop up a nice little reminder if you go anywhere dodgy that site XYZ is not allowed under company regs.

    Democracy has next to nothing to do with a company's rules, if the company says you cannot do thing XYZ, it's against policy and you agree to that before you start work, providing it doesn't infringe any of your human rights etc, then tough! Get another job elsewhere if you don't like it!

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Am I the first to point out...

    discovered by his supervisor, Larry Wise, during routine computer maintenance.

    That his supervisor worked in IT... Odd structure in that company...OR.. It sounds like he was snooping... isn't that an unlawful act? shouldn't this have been detected by and dealt with by the IT department??

    As for unauthorised access to a computer I dont understand how that stuck? was it not his computer? was it not assigned to him to use? What he uses it for is an internal disciplinary matter surely. The only way this is 'unauthorised access to a computer' is if he hacked the proxy to allow access to a site, and I doubt that happened or he would have had a better job....

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Routine Maintenance.

    "The nude pictures he uploaded were discovered by his supervisor, Larry Wise, during routine computer maintenance."

    I call bullshit.

    I bet the guy spied some sort of hurried application switching and thought he'd go on and have a look at the guys internet history and check around for .jpg and .gif files.

    My take on what happened:

    Maybe when the supervisor found some pics of his employee nude he was so eroticised he popped the protein in his pants. Such was his shame and self revulsion that he had to make sure the "pervert" went to the big house.

    I have to state, this is only a theory and shouldn't be taken as fact!

    Wouldn't want to be accused of cyber bullying and thrown in Sing Sing now would I?

    Still, if the guy likes being dominated he'd be very happy being Bubba's little helper.


    Seriously though, this is a travesty of justice. Using Law like this is horrible! Poor bastard, just wanted to be loved. (In a very specific way)

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Appeal Defence...

    Judge: Counsellor, what proof do you have for this new plea of insanity?

    Hyper-Chicken Defence Lawyer: Well... for one they done hired me to represent them...

    Judge: Insanity claim approved!

  25. Andy Worth

    Re:Exceeding scope of authorisation

    "Neither does it make any difference that the defendant didn't have to break some clever security to achieve his ends. If I leave my front door open, it is still theft if you walk in and nick my telly."

    You claim that the lawyer makes no sense with his distinction between hacking and exceeding authorisation and then back it up with a ridiculous comparison such as that? Do you see the irony there at all?

    If anything, what you said indicates that the "Theft of Service" charge should have stood rather than the charge of hacking. The guy might have been wasting his office time posting pictures of himself but at what point did he have to "hack" anything?

    Personally, I think the guy should sue the I.T. department of the company for their obvious negligence in blocking sites such as adult friend finder. Even if the company had a clear policy in place regarding internet usage, this is a case that should be hand;ed under employment law and is sod all to do with "hacking".

    It sets a dangerous precedent for any company who don't like what an employee does with their internet access to be able to have you charged with criminal activities. There is nothing criminal about posting pictures of yourself on a website such as the one involved (unless they depict some criminal activity of course) - the fact that the company were too incompetent to block the site is their own stupid fault.

    Evidently the judge involved is as technically competent as the company themselves.

  26. edwardecl
    Thumb Down


    are they serious?

    So if you use a computer when someone says not to it's a criminal offence and you get 2 years in jail?

    wow just wow, does that apply to all electronic devices that are computers? like mobile phones? calculators? ^^

  27. Brett Weaver

    I thought...

    Shelby got nuked on the Simpsons... Oh! This is real life?!?.. Oh FFS....

  28. Andy Worth


    "So if you use a computer when someone says not to it's a criminal offence and you get 2 years in jail?"

    From my understanding he didn't even use a computer when told not to - he used a computer which he was allowed to use, but for something the company considered to be an inappropriate use of company time/property. Instead of just firing the idiot, they decided to have him charged.

  29. Simon B

    Hacking?! wtf?!!

    Using the designated computer supplied during your designated work hours at your designated desk using your designated login username and password is hacking because .... ?? errr cus the dumb USA law says that if you are doing something other than work you 're hacking. I wonder how many millions of hackers there are in the hacker crime state of USA, hmmmm time to stop playing minesweeper I think!! ROFL ROFL ROFL

  30. Jon

    hacking law?

    To all those quibbling about whether it is hacking or not.

    The law is probably only known colloquially as "the Hacking law" no doubt the legalize you are all so scared of does not mention "hacking" precisly to stop these kind of nerd circle jerks. It says "exceeding the scope of authorization".

  31. yonorri

    @ken hagan

    'If I leave my front door open, it is still theft if you walk in and nick my telly.'

    It might be theft but I'll have a telly and you'd be unlikely to get anything out of your insurance company :)

  32. Frank Bitterlich
    Thumb Down

    Who said "hacking"?

    Who on earth said that he was convicted of "hacking"? Certainly not the court. He was convicted of "unauthorized access to a computer", which is what he apparently did (I assume that his employer had a "no porn" rule in effect, and as such he was not authorized to use his computer to consume or produce "indecent" [whoever defines what that means] images).

    "Unauthorized access" is not "hacking". The one who brought that up is probably the defendant himself or his lawyer (it's not completely clear from the article - maybe it was the employer, or even the press), and - as always - repeated without the slightest hint of thinking by the entire involved press.

    What a shame. The central statement ("dude convicted of hacking because he did this or that") of this story is untrue. Which didn't prevent the usual gang from engaaging in a heated discusssion about it :)

  33. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
    Black Helicopters

    Ohio PCs

  34. Ted Treen
    Jobs Halo


    ...and I was thinking that this sort of almost unbelievable idiocy could only occur under Whacky & her tame Stasi.

    Now I see why Grinning Tony sucked up so much to the US authorities - nowhere else on Earth could he find such a concentration of morally suspect, technologically ignorant, all-round gormless cretins. No wonder he & NuLab felt so comfortable & at home with them.

    And before I'm flamed for anti-Americanism, let me stress that I have no problem at all with the average US citizen - at least those whom I have met & sometimes worked with. Perhaps the USA has a job-creation scheme for mentally & morally incompetent morons, and they call it "Politics" and/or "The Legal System". If that is so, then it's nother thing we have in common...

  35. Ted Treen


    It is more & more apparent that a strong desire to be a legislator OR politician should be sifficient grounds to bar you from being either.

    You know it makes sense

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