RE: Russian hacker nabbed by FBI now lost in federal prisonsystem

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Sat Jul 28 2001 - 13:09:54 MDT

Samantha Atkins wrote,
> > Samantha Atkins wrote,
> > > What do you mean by "contravene"? He simply wrote papers and
> > > produced a program to back up his papers on how broken the
> > > protection schemes are.
> >
> > Actually, it is not quite so simple. Dmitry Sklyarov works for
> a Russian
> > company called ElcomSoft Co. Ltd. of Moscow
> <>. They
> > They sell commercial software that recovers passwords or breaks
> encryption
> > <>.

> Pardon me, but this has nothing to do with the charges against
> him. Many of those pasword cracking products are bought by
> "law enforcement" organizations like the self-same FBI that
> nabbed him and refuses to release him even after Adobe dropped
> their complaint and asked that he be released.

I was not addressing or supporting the charges against him. I was
responding to your oversimplification that he "simply wrote papers and
produced a program to back up his papers". I was pointing out that he went
a little farther than just academic research.

As a side note, Adobe has no right to drop charges against Sklyarov. This
is not a civil suit. It is a criminal case. The FBI/police/government
decides on their prosecution strategy. The so-called victim (Adobe) has no
rights. This is what allows the government to pursue victimless crimes
where none of the participants wants the government to intervene, but they
do anyway.

> If we have a beef with the company he works for in general then
> we should take that up with the company instead of locking away
> one of its employees on trumped up charges.

The so-called beef is a law which makes it illegal to break encryption. It
may be a bad law. However, as it is written, it is Sklyarov who broke the
encryption. The company that employs him and distributes his program did
not break this law.

I agree that the law is stupid. I myself break these kind of laws all the
time in the course of my security business. I never get arrested because
nobody cares. I am hired by clients who pay me to break their security.
Although he law does not exemptions for me, most prosecutors ignore me.
They selectively enforce the law.

> Lastly, do not call people who do cyber breaking and enterning
> "hackers".

Sorry. I agree with your implied point that hacking is not necessarily
related to criminal behavior. Running a tool downloaded from the Internet
is not really hacking in any sense of the word.

> This "encryption" is so asinine and childish that a 12 year old
> could break it without hardly trying.

Agreed. That is why they need laws to prevent people from doing it. The
encryption itself is not good enough to deter anybody.

> It is also offered in conformance with "fair use" which Adobe
> e-books and other closed systems today would deny by enforcing a
> different set of common law in the code itself which everyone is
> then forbiddent to reverse-engineer or contravene. This is a
> huge threat to all of us.

I'm not sure this blocks fair use. People still must pay for books. When
you borrow a book from a library for free, it is because the library paid
for it. Adobe is trying to develop a method to ensure payment. I'm not
sure I see how enforcing payment threatens fair use of copyrighted
materials. I am probably missing your point as to what is threatening about
this technology.

Are you arguing against the concept of copyrights in general? That is a
complicated topic, about which I have still not finalized my position. I
hate the idea of patents which limit the use of a great idea. However, I
can't see how inventors would get paid without them. The same is true for
copyrights. I hate the idea that a freely-copyable resource is artificially
limited, but I don't know how artists and writers would get paid without
enforcing payment. I admit that I have not researched this enough, and
therefore I am not sure what the best answer should be.

Harvey Newstrom <> <>

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:39:58 MDT