Dmitri case ushers in age of hacker crackdown

Experts foresee night of the long knives for European hackers...

Experts foresee night of the long knives for European hackers...

A US grand jury has indicted Dmitri Sklyarov and Elcomsoft, his Russian employer, on five counts of copyright violations. The Russian programmer was originally arrested after he demonstrated a method of bypassing copyright protection used in Adobe's electronic book format. The landmark case which has captured the imagination of the IT world is just one of a number of cases where US officials have taken an extreme stance. Parents of jailed 17-year-old hacker Mafiaboy yesterday called for the release of their son. The juvenile cyber-delinquent is currently serving a jail sentence for 58 security breaches, which included crippling attacks on CNN, Dell, Ebay and Yahoo!. Today the US Defense Intelligence Agency said it is inking a contract with security firm Veridian to study intrusions and attacks against its Department of Defense networks to assess the validity of rumours surrounding a growing 'information' war with China. Julian Midgley, who heads a campaign for Digital Rights, said the US government is clamping down on anything which contravenes DMCA regulation (the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and academics seeking to publicise the shortcomings of current copyright protection are getting caught in the crossfire. Midgley said: "There is a fine line between prosecuting those who cause damage and those who are who are helping to develop protocols as methods of security. Using the DMCA in this way [to prosecute Sklyarov] is very worrying. Clearly the US government is using Dmitri as a test case and I already know the FBI is stepping up its actions against computer crackers." Caspar Bowden, a director of the Foundation for Information Policy Research, described the breach of the DMCA by Dmitri as a time bomb waiting to explode when similar legislation hits European shores under the umbrella of the EUCD (European Copyright Directive) within the next two years. Bowden said: "The trouble is just brewing. The UK government will be lobbied by the major companies to carry out 'the appropriate legal measures', but the government has a choice to be minimal or restrictive in the way it implements it." Dmitri Sklyarov's arrest incensed technology enthusiasts all over the world, prompting demonstrations outside US embassies early in August. Keen for Dmitri's captors not to forget the hordes of techies calling for his release, the Campaign for Digital Rights is to hold a simultaneous demo in London and Edinburgh tomorrow in support of the hacker. More details can be found at: http://uk.eurorights.org/calendar . For related news see:
Freedom in the air for Dmitri?
http://www.silicon.com/a46768
Dmitri gets breathing space
http://www.silicon.com/a46743
'Free Dmitri' campaign takes case of hacker to US embassy
http://www.silicon.com/a46196
Adobe backs down in Russian hacker case
http://www.silicon.com/a45997