I know the original story regarding the Sarah Palin email hacking situation ran a little over a year and a half ago. The trial is underway, and I took the stand to give testimony on Wednesday. I’m a little disturbed by the entire process, and thought you might be interested in a follow up to what’s gone on.
The prosecution, in briefing me for trial in the days before I was to testify, was apparently trying to prove things that they knew were entirely irrelevant to the case at hand. The main prosecutor, for example, was telling me that the ads being loaded by my site, and the ads (attempted) to load from yahoo mail while viewing my site, were important because “we need to show as much commerce as possible”. I can only assume he means, that he wants to get the kid on interstate wire fraud, and without commerce, there is no wire fraud. He particularly didn’t care that, even though my logs showed that some hits were made to ad servers, that my site is de-facto not compatible with ads, and they never would have been loaded or shown on the screen. Further, it is a real stretch in the first place to claim that viewing a website with ads on it, constitutes sufficient interstate commerce to allow for wire fraud. He told me, “it doesn’t matter if they loaded or not”, clearly showing that he doesn’t care if interstate commerce happened, or if the particular crimes he is prosecuting for is applicable here, he is only interested in reaching the maximum possible sentence.
Also disturbing, Kernell is charged with 4 counts, two of which carry 5 year maximum sentences each, and the other 2, 25 year maximum sentences each. News reports say this would carry up to 50 years maximum sentence if convicted. My fuzzy math says this would be 60 years and not 50, but what do I know? In any case, 50 years, ironically, is twice the maximum sentencing guideline for second degree murder. Second degree murder is known as a “level 38″ federal offense, punishable by 235-293 months (19-24 years) in jail, when committed by someone with little or no criminal history. The fact that the government would try to get twice as much time in jail for what amounts to a prank, than they could get for a cold blooded murderer, is insane. To think that this would have been half as serious if he had gone out and killed someone on the street just shows what sorry shape our legal system is in.
As a result of this trial, I will be changing the logging policy for my proxy websites. Effective immediately, I will only be logging the minimum amount required by law. In the United States, this means nothing at all. For our servers in the UK (currently hosting only ktunnel.com, popular only in Turkey), we will be logging for 48 hours, as that is the relevant required logging period in that jurisdiction. Even in the UK, we will be looking into ways to log less evidence-quality information, so long as what we are logging is within our legal obligations. For the US, where almost all of our proxies are hosted, logging will only take place after-the-fact, to specifically try to log information on people who are repeatedly abusing our systems, and then, only logging what is necessary to stop a specific, repeatedly abusive user. We will no longer be proactively logging the activity of users on our US servers.
This change in policy is made possible by advancements in abuse prevention. These days, it is very rare that I get a legitimate abuse complaint, and when I do, the only needed response in the majority of cases is to disallow access to an unpopular website (usually a forum) that is being spammed or otherwise abused. By changing my logging policy, the logs will meet the (now much lower) requirement of what I need to log in order to keep my sites working properly.
As a result of this trial, and the complete lack of perspective and justice being shown by the federal government, I will be stepping up now, in an attempt to meet my moral obligations. As such, I will do whatever it is that I can do, legally, to protect my users, by logging as little as I am legally allowed to log while still keeping my site working properly for everyone who needs to use it. I am genuinely sorry for being an integral part in this trial, something I hope never happens again.