Letter to the Editor

March 1, 2003

Simon Vallor has been sentenced to two years in prison for writing and releasing the Gokar and other viruses. Before we join the jubilation of the computer security industry, should we not ask some questions?

a) Our judicial leaders urge that space in our overcrowded prisons be reserved
for those who are violent or unreformable. Would not a community sentence have
been appropriate here? Several hundred hours, helping disabled youngsters to
use computers or writing web sites for Help-the-Aged, seems more likely to
ensure that this 22-year-old matures into a useful citizen.

b) Is it wise to incarcerate an immature youth, with excellent programming
skills, alongside hundreds of hardened criminals? The chances of
cross-fertilisation seem high. Is there not a serious danger, either that he
will learn how to turn his skills to gainful, criminal use, or that he will
teach villains to use computers to commit crimes and evade justice?

Was the Vallor sentence the right sentence for a virus writer? E-mail your views to lseastham@aol.com.