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   liability into an asset by showing that he had been in many

   systems--many sensitive systems--but had done no malicious damage in

   any of them.

  

   The strategy worked and the magistrate announced there was no way he

   was sending the young hacker to jail.

  

   The prosecutor looked genuinely disappointed and launched a counter

   proposal--1500 hours of community service. Anthrax caught his breath.

   That was absurd. It would take almost nine months, full time. Painting

   buildings, cleaning toilets. Forget about his university studies. It was

   almost as bad as prison.

  

   Anthrax's lawyer protested. `Your Worship, that penalty is something

   out of cyberspace.' Anthrax winced at how corny that sounded, but the

   lawyer looked very pleased with himself.

  

   The magistrate refused to have a bar of the prosecutor's counter

   proposal. Anthrax's girlfriend was impressed with the magistrate. She

   didn't know much about the law or the court system, but he seemed a

   fair man, a just man. He didn't appear to want to give a harsh

   punishment to Anthrax at all. But he told the court he had to send a

   message to Anthrax, to the class of school children in the public

   benches and to the general community that hacking was wrong in the

   eyes of the law. Anthrax glanced back at the students. They looked

   like they were aged thirteen or fourteen, about the age he got into

   hacking and phreaking.

  

   The magistrate announced his sentence. Two hundred hours of community

   service and $6116.90 of restitution to be paid to two telephone

   companies--Telecom and Teleglobe in Canada. It wasn't prison, but it was

   a staggering amount of money for a student to rake up. He had a year to

   pay it off, and it would definitely take that long. At least he was

   free.

  

   Anthrax's girlfriend thought how unlucky it was to have landed those

   giggling school children in the courtroom on that day. They laughed

   and pointed and half-whispered. Court was a game. They didn't seem to

   take the magistrate's warning seriously. Perhaps they were gossiping

   about the next party. Perhaps they were chatting about a new pair of

   sneakers or a new CD.

  

   And maybe one or two murmured quietly how cool it would be to break

   into NASA.