[ISN] Argentine judge rules in favour of hackers

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Tue Apr 16 2002 - 00:34:00 PDT

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    Reuters News Agency
    Monday, April 15
    
    Buenos Aires, Argentina - Computer hackers may be the scourge of the
    digital age, hunted down by police across borders, but in Argentina
    they have found an unlikely ally  the very justice system they
    scorned.
    
    Warning of a "dangerous legal void" making digital crimes hard to
    prosecute, a judge has ruled that hacking is legal by default in
    Argentina. The decision came in the case of cyberpirates who defaced
    the Supreme Court's Web page.
    
    Arguing that the law only covered crimes on "people, things and
    animals" and not digital attacks, a federal court declared several
    Argentines known as "X-Team" innocent of charges they broke into the
    high court's Web page to accuse judges of covering up a human rights
    case.
    
    "The judge ruled that hacking didn't harm things, people or animals
    and thus was not covered in the law," Antonio Mille, a lawyer for
    Microsoft in Argentina, said Monday.
    
    The ruling was first published April 11. The sentence was not
    appealed, lawyers said.
    
    "This [ruling] allows us to warn that there is a serious legal void
    that these days does not allow us to repress these [crimes]," the
    judge said in the ruling.
    
    In Argentine courts rulings do not set legal precedents and another
    judge could rule differently on the legality of hackers in a new case.
    
    The "X-Team" was accused of illegally entering the Supreme Court Web
    page in 1998 and replacing it with photos of murdered magazine
    journalist Jose Luis Cabezas as well as statements blaming the judges
    for covering up his death.
    
    Mr. Cabezas was found dead and his body charred into blackened bones
    during a 1997 probe into Alfredo Yabran, a business tycoon with links
    to then-President Carlos Menem. Mr. Yabran later committed suicide
    after a judge ordered his arrest.
    
    The dead journalist's case has been a cause celebre among groups
    protesting what they said was a covering up of human rights abuses by
    top government officials.
    
    Polls show that courts are some of the most unpopular institutions in
    Argentina and Supreme Court judges have become a focus of public anger
    and a rallying cry for street protests against alleged corruption in
    the state.
    
    
    
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