Commit the crime, serve the time

Those who stalk, trap and inflame, albeit in cyberspace, are sent packing to the jailhouse.

Whether it's e-mail spam, hijacking others' computers, or inciting racial or religious disharmony through Web logs, those who use new technologies and run afoul of the law are not spared the jail term.

In the most recent case, a 20-year-old has been sentenced to 4 years and 9 months in prison for remotely controlling computers for financial gain, reported news agency Reuters. Jeanson James Ancheta, who had pleaded guilty in January, used 'bots' or programs that allowed an intruder to manipulate PCs to form networks of hijacked or zombie computers. He used these 'botnets' to spam or plant adware in other computers, and also sold access to the infected systems to other hackers.

According to Reuters, Ancheta was given a record sentence for spreading computer viruses. He was also ordered to cough out US$75,000, of which US$60,000 was estimated to be illicit gains from the operations.

Last October, three people were arrested in the Netherlands for allegedly controlling up to 1.5 million PCs. The trio were said to have used the 'botnets' to steal credit card numbers and other personal data, and to blackmail online businesses. A spokesman for the Dutch National Prosecutor's Office had indicated that the three could face up to six years in prison.

Spammers are not spared either from time behind bars. ZDNet Asia's sister site Silicon.com reported in January that a man was facing a two-year jail term after being charged under the U.S. Can-Spam Act. The man, from Detroit, had been accused of collaborating with three other men to send millions of spam messages under the guise of high-profile companies such as Ford, Unisys and the U.S. Army Information Center.

Over in Singapore, a blogger was sentenced to one month's jail by the courts after he was found guilty of making seditious remarks against Muslims in his Web log. Another Singaporean was jailed for a day for posting racist comments in an online forum.

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