Re: Russian hacker nabbed by FBI now lost in federal prison system

From: Adrian Tymes (
Date: Fri Jul 20 2001 - 13:35:40 MDT

Samantha Atkins wrote:
> Has it come to the point that laws can be declared and people
> prosecuted without regard for nationality or what nation passed
> the laws and with no guarantees at all of reasonable process or
> room to address the merits of the case?

In this case, the Russian was on US soil when the arrest was made.
Defense against that: don't visit a country if you object to its laws.

That said, I have heard of incidents of one country (especially the US,
though I may have just heard more about that since I live there)
imposing its laws on other countries with some success. (For instance,
certain Europeans arrested for violating copyrights of US companies,
even though said "violations" were not violations under the eyes of
their local law.) Certainly, some of the more poorly thought out
"cyber-law" treaties, seeking to impose some special regime or legal
understanding upon the Internet, would bring such under all but the
most conservative readings of their words (and unfortunately, their
authors tend to be systematically blind to non-conservative readings,
only acknowledging any other kind under major pressure from the
citizens they claim to represent).

> What can be done to stop this madness? No one is safe if this
> is what the world has come to, and especially not if this is
> what the US has come to.

The DMCA is objectionable because it gives the US an excuse to do this
to anybody on their soil - including their own citizens - and more so
because, once arrested, anybody can become "lost in the system" without
due process of law (and there have been occasional documented cases of
this, usually involving law enforcement officials who believe their job
is "punish the bad guys" instead of "enforce the law", one of the main
differences being "make sure a person really has violated the law
before inflicting punishment"). Imposing US law on a person on US soil
is not, IMO, a problem.

That said...I remember at Extro 5, there was some discussion about a
possible "refuge" from this kind of broken system, once space access
has become affordable enough that there is once again some place
literally beyond the reach of the law. I've been musing about this in
idle moments, and I've come up with a couple questions:

How would the laws of such a place work? Presumably, it would be
modelled on the best working examples we have to date (US and others);
a constitution that is difficult to change would seem to be the
starting point. But how could one shape this constitution so as to
keep the offices and powers it allows from degenerating due to
corruption (barring, of course, changes to the constitution, which the
document itself can not completely guard against without also
preventing corrections to any legitimate errors in the initial
version)? One starting point might be to explicitly state the right of
any citizen to fair and quick (immediate?) compensation from the
government for any seizure of resources (physical property, time, et
cetera); this would give, for instance, incentive to make sure that tax
forms are easy to fill out (and probably as automated as possible) lest
the compensation for an average citizens' time to fill out tax forms
exceed an average citizen's tax bill.

Assuming the laws have been worked out to a reasonable enough degree,
how do we get the people and institutions we wish to protect to move to
the refuge? This is, IMO, more of an economic question than an
ideological one: people will move if they believe it is significantly
profitable for them to do so (with costs including any "psychic costs"
like moving out of neighborhoods they have friends in), although the
ideology can influence the economics (it is more profitable to do
business in an area where those who do your line of work are not the
target of constant protests, arbitrary law enforcement, and/or - in
extreme cases - assassination attempts).

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