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Re: Benign Worms
From: Dan <dan+lists () af0 net>
Date: Sun, 15 May 2005 12:34:34 -0400

On Fri, May 13, 2005 at 04:47:35PM -0700, Eric Paynter wrote:
I think we're getting a little into an argument of semantics. The
defendant did in fact *intend* to sell the weapon, which was against the
law to do. He just wasn't aware of the law. Ignorance of the law does not
protect you.

This is straying from the topic, and I agree with your general
conclusion anyway (that releasing a worm unintentionally could still get
you in legal trouble), but as a point of clarification, there are some
laws that don't require criminal intent at all, though you are right
that many (most?) hinge on intent. An example would be statutory rape,
in which intent is not an issue. Similarly, as you alluded to, there are
often options for prosecuting a defendant who lacked intent with a
lesser crime, e.g. manslaughter versus murder. 

I'm not a lawyer, either, and I'm not all that familiar with this area
of law, but it is interesting to note that the Computer Fraud and Abuse
Act (http://www.panix.com/~eck/computer-fraud-act.html) _does_ require
criminal intent--"having knowingly accessed a computer without
authorization," "intentionally accesses a computer without
authorization," "intentionally, without authorization," etc. However,
I'm sure a creative prosecutor could drag up something criminal, if he
wished, and in any case, the inevitable civil suits would be quite
enough to deter me. 

-- 
Dan
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