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   computer security and law enforcement people into a frenzied panic and

   tried to pin all sorts of things on the British hackers, none of which

   they had done. The underground saw Spaf as being rabid in his attack

   on hackers, based largely on his response to the RTM worm. And Gandalf

   had hacked Spaf's machine.

  

   The crackdown on the Australians, combined with the discovery of the

   Spaf file, had a profound effect on Pad. Always cautious anyway, he

   decided to give up hacking. It was a difficult decision, and weaning

   himself from exploring systems night after night was no easy task.

   However, in the face of what had happened to Electron and Phoenix,

   continuing to hack didn't seem worth the risk.

  

   When Pad gave up hacking, he bought his own NUI so he could access

   places like Altos legitimately. The NUI was expensive--about

   [sterling]10 an hour--but he was never on for long. Leisurely chats of

   the type he once enjoyed in Altos were out of the question, but at

   least he could mail letters to his friends like Theorem and Gandalf.

   There would have been easier ways to maintain his friendship with

   Gandalf, who lived in Liverpool, only an hour's drive away. But it

   wouldn't be the same. Pad and Gandalf had never met, or even talked on

   the phone. They talked on-line, and via email. That was the way they

   related.

  

   Pad also had other reasons for giving up hacking. It was an expensive

   habit in Britain because British Telecom time-charged for local phone

   calls. In Australia, a hacker could stay on-line for hours, jumping

   from one computer to another through the data network, all for the

   cost of one local call. Like the Australians, Pad could launch his

   hacking sessions from a local uni or X.25 dial-up. However, an

   all-night hacking session based on a single phone call might still

   cost him [sterling]5 or more in timed-call charges--a considerable

   amount of money for an unemployed young man. As it was, Pad had

   already been forced to stop hacking for brief periods when he ran out

   of his dole money.

  

   Although Pad didn't think he could be prosecuted for hacking under

   British law in early 1990, he knew that Britain was about to enact its

   own computer crime legislation--the Computer Misuse Act 1990--in

   August. The 22-year-old hacker decided that it was better to quit

   while he was ahead.

  

   And he did, for a while at least. Until July 1990, when Gandalf, two

   years his junior, tempted him with one final hack before the new Act

   came into force. Just one last fling, Gandalf told him. After that

   last fling in July, Pad stopped hacking again.

  

   The Computer Misuse Act passed into law in August 1990, following two

   law commission reviews on the subject. The Scottish Law Commission

   issued a 1987 report proposing to make unauthorised data access

   illegal, but only if the hacker tried to `secure advantage, or cause

   damage to another person'--including reckless damage.2 Simple look-see

   hacking would not be a crime under the report's recommendations.

   However, in 1989 The Law Commission of England and Wales issued its

   own report proposing that simple unauthorised access should be a crime

   regardless of intent--a recommendation which was eventually included

   in the law.

  

   Late in 1989, Conservative MP Michael Colvin introduced a private

   member's bill into the British parliament. Lending her support to the