October 23, 2008

Should this woman go to prison for hacking her husband to death?

Is that a crime?
"I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry" ...

She has not yet been formally charged, but if convicted could face a prison term of up to five years or a fine up to $5,000.
That seems really wrong, really harsh. I don't see how it's any of the government's business.

34 comments:

Rob said...

That was tricky!

Obviously she should be executed immediately, dragged into the virtual street and put down like a dog's avatar.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Bwahahahaha!

She took apart pixel by pixel. The punishment shoud be a virtual thrashing.

XWL said...

She wasn't convicted of destroying the virtual character, she was convicted of breaking into his private accounts.

No different then breaking into his business email account and sending bogus emails that made him lose business.

Imagine if someone with a grudge got a hold of your .edu email and started hitting everyone on your mailing list with crazy emails that damaged your professional standing.

Just cause she attacked his game character, doesn't make it less of a fraud.

The question is whether it's criminal fraud or misdemeanor fraud. Presumably he could have gone to the admin and got his character restored, so he wouldn't have lost much, so despite the article saying she could do up to five years in prison, most likely she's getting the fine plus probation and nothing more (though, public humiliation counts more in Japan than it does here, generally, so that in of itself is strong punishment).

XWL said...

I should amend that to say she hasn't been convicted of anything at all, given that she hasn't even been charged, and most likely the case will be dropped so long as she doesn't demand compensation for being detained and forcibly moved 600 miles.

But the Japanese legal system is different from ours, so who knows, maybe they'll make an example out of her.

bleeper said...

Hacking is a crime? I thought it was ok, especially when done to one's political enemies. It will be legal here, soon. She just needs to move here...

dbp said...

They should try her for murder in "Maple Story" and her punishment should be taken by her avatar.

or

Maybe the system administrater could restore the virtual husband using a back-up file. And make the "wife" promise to not kill him again.

Eli Blake said...

XWL:

The thing is, despite the headline, she didn't hack anything. If you read through the article you will see that he had given her the login information. If he no longer wanted her to have it (and therefore to use it) then it was his responsibility to change his password.

Further, it would be hard to argue that she caused him material damage by this act, unlike as you suggest that she'd hacked a bank account.

So you're right, the law is presumably different in Japan but since she gained access via a password that he'd provided to her I don't see how this is a crime, and certainly not one that is worth five years in prison.

blake said...

Redirection or misdirection tag?

XWL said...

The cops set up bait cars, sometimes with the keys in and the car running, yet if someone takes the bait, they're still charged with grand theft auto.

Having access to someone's password doesn't preclude an act of fraud from being fraud if you use that access without permission and use that access to commit acts as that person (which is what she did by controlling, then killing his avatar).

If he had spent 100 hours on an artwork, then she dumped it in a river, would people think she'd done nothing wrong?

Methadras said...

Was she wearing a cosplay or furry costume while spraying her liquified excrement on herself as she vomits and reswallows it as she butchered her ex-virtual husband? I mean this is Japan afterall.

Rohan said...

Eli Blake, so if she had a key to the (real-world) house, and he hadn't changed the locks yet, it would be okay for her to go inside and trash it?

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Wait, I'm confused. You can get arrested for killing someone in an interactive video game? I would've thought that was the whole point. I'm afraid to play those games now, cause the first thing I'd wanna do would be to attack the other players, even if it were a Sims-like game.

Cedarford said...

bleeper said...
Hacking is a crime? I thought it was ok, especially when done to one's political enemies. It will be legal here, soon. She just needs to move here...


Bleeper must have been sleeping through "Kid Kernel" being arrested and indicted on serious Federal charges for breaking into Sarah Palin's email account and publicly posting some of her personal info.
I don't see any move to immunize hackers attempting to steal military secrets, insert destructive viruses past firewalls, get into financial accounts, or people's personal email accounts and hard drives. Only in Hollywood are hackers lauded - similar to their days when they glorified "graffitti artists" in movies and on TV shows before realizing the public saw them as destructive vandals who were uglifying public spaces and disturbing public tranquility.

Xwl appears to have the legal call right. The Prefecture could also have charged her with destruction of personal property, no different than a bitter woman who smashes her ex's car with a hammer, or takes his dog and has it euthanized. (Both have happened, in America, and of course with bitter men doing the same acts.)

It appears that no slandar or libel was committed, but we have that all too much in angry divorces as false charges of child molestation are made, or parties use proprietary info about their ex to slander and libel the person once loved, now hated...

Cedarford said...

Methadras said...
Was she wearing a cosplay or furry costume while spraying her liquified excrement on herself as she vomits and reswallows it as she butchered her ex-virtual husband? I mean this is Japan afterall.


Perfect, Methadras.

I like and admire the Japanese, but as fetishists and pervs, the Japanese are world-class. Spend time there and you see their public face, their "inner selves", and their healthy or unhealthy fantasy lives can be distinct personas.

blake said...

CAC--

Yeah, it's interesting how the article leaves you with that impression, but if you read carefully, you'll see that there killing someone's character is not the crime:

...jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data

...charged in Delaware with plotting the real-life abduction of a boyfriend

...charges of swindling virtual currency worth $360,000 in an interactive role playing game by manipulating another player's portfolio using a stolen ID and password.

This last one is somewhat problematic: Was it worth $360K real, or just virtual? (The exchange rate varies from game to game.)

I actually looked at playing "Maple Story". I couldn't figure out what the point was.

Original George said...

Two words about Japan:

Love Hotels

One more word:

Uni.

Bissage said...

Hacked virtual husband?

There was this itty-bitty, tiny little Chinese restaurant about a block from where I used to work. They were right off the boat.

I was a regular and we made friends. They told me one of their family secrets. Put Hershey’s syrup in with your rice before steaming.

They liked me, in part, because I frequently ordered off the menu.

Hacked chicken.

They served it up old school.

The next morning was always a virtual hell.

Oxbay said...

Good one Althouse. You got me.

Freeman Hunt said...

I played one of those MMORPGs for a short while. I remember there being a woman in our partner guild who became enraged when her ingame boyfriend ingame married some other ingame female avatar. It was hilarious. She was absolutely hysterical about it. This was a grown woman with a real life husband and children. She went on and on about how she'd been "betrayed," and she could never understand why no one else cared.

Some people get weird about games.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Wait, I'm confused. You can get arrested for killing someone in an interactive video game? I would've thought that was the whole point. I'm afraid to play those games now, cause the first thing I'd wanna do would be to attack the other players, even if it were a Sims-like game.

OK. Being serious now. She did destroy his charater in the game and she sould be punished in some way.

Speaking as a person who plays World of Warcraft since it came out as a MMORPG, I have spent (wasted my husband would say) considerable time and have accumulated a lot of items. Those items have value in the virtual economy of the game and more importantly can have value in the literal world.

Keyloggers are a low life type of scum who can put spy programs on your computer and see your keystrokes. They make a living stealing people's WoW accounts. Stripping the characters of all their goods and selling such on EBay or other places for real world dollars. You can also sell your account to another person (illegal according to the Blizzard agreement but people do it anyway)

There is even an entire industry of people who do nothing but play the game and sell the items to turn into in game currency and then sell that currency to other players who are too lazy to play the game themselves. We call them "Chinese Gold Farmers", because grinding for items is called farming and most of those professional players are from China. Probably chained to their computers for hours at a time. Not fun or funny.

So, when this woman destroyed the virtual character she did destroy something that had real value, not to mention the emotional suffering on the part of her virtual ex-husband in losing the time and energy he has put into building his character.

Trooper York said...

She was heard to say as she was hacking her husband to death "Why don't you go tell that to Ann Althouse."

John Burgess said...

dbp: Do virtual world really need virtual zombies?

If the avatar is dead, leave him dead for Papa Legba's sake!

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Can your character murder another character in these games? That would be kinda cool. Let's say killing someone requires planning, is an involved process, and you might get caught and thereby lose everything, but you could possibly gain all the other person's things. Might be interesting. There's nothing like that in Sims.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Can your character murder another character in these games? That would be kinda cool

Absolutely!! That's one of the best parts of WoW in my opinion. The PvP..... Player versus Player. It takes a lot of skill to be able to defeat another character. You need to know what their weaknesses are and how to capitalize on your strengths. You can also team up with other people to attack or fight other teams of opposing players. If I do say so myself, I'm pretty good at it in the battlegrounds. Not so much on one on one duels. It is a blast!!

In the game, of course, when you kill another player, his character will revive and live to fight another day.

In this game you get credit/points for killing the opponent that you can buy special PvP gear with and get titles that show you are a bad ass. In other games you do get to loot the body and steal the other guy's stuff.

What this woman did, however, was to completely erase her ex-virtual-husband's character. Like wiping the hard drive on the computer the information/character is gone.

Right now, we are having a zombie plague and you can either get healed if infected, protect the area or become a zombie on purpose and infect other people and eat their brains. It's a Halloween special event and a kick in the pants.

Hoosier Daddy will know all about this. He plays too. :-)

Daryl said...

The Volokh Conspiracy had a proper analysis of this. My super-short summary:

1 - There was a divorce.

2 - One of the parties to the divorce used her former spouse's identity and password in order to basically destroy an account he had.

3 - That's a crime.

4 - If I used your identity and password to get in to this web site, and then deleted all of the archives (basically destroyed your account), and you didn't have access to backups, you wouldn't treat that as a "virtual" crime, you'd want it treated as a real crime. You wouldn't say that I destroyed a "virtual book" that doesn't exist in real life.

Daryl said...

(number 4 isn't part of the summary)

Glen said...

In most Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG's) your character gains power, status and wealth by playing many hours and fighting increasingly powerful foes to gain experience levels & *uber* equipment. These games make money by charging a monthly subscription fee.

Maple Story uses a new and increasingly popular revenue model -- they make money by selling players special items through their Cash Store

A player spends real world cash to buy his/her character a powerful new sword; or a token that enables double experience points for "X" amount of hours; or a charm that grants you some sort of qualified invulnerability; or a ticket that bestows an official in-game marriage contract between two players. Etc., etc.

Some of these items are permanent, others are time sensitive. Some items might be "conditional", i.e. they disappear upon death (even though the character lives on).

So one issue that arises is: did this woman's hacking cause the man to lose property that he paid for in real world money?

Hmmm?

TMink said...

Drop the WoW and play Everquest II. It is more complex, takes longer (but not too long) to level your characters, and the average age of players is 10 years older than on WoW.

You can try for free, and with a big update coming it will be $40 to sign up.

Be careful, it is called EverCrack for a reason.

Trey

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Drop the WoW and play Everquest II.

Great....That's all I need. Another addictive time wasting game. :-) I'm gonna check it out.

Ann Althouse said...

"2 - One of the parties to the divorce used her former spouse's identity and password in order to basically destroy an account he had. 3 - That's a crime."

What's the name of the crime? Screwing up a game is a crime. Like if 2 guys are playing chess and I flip over the chessboard and knock all the pieces on the ground, they can call the cops and have me arrested?

blake said...

Not for knocking over the pieces, but what about for melting the pieces? Or, say, smashing them, if they're made out of expensive crystal?

Now, I'm not sure how any virtual damage can be permanent without the game owners refusing to restore what was lost--something that should be a fairly trivial matter, but still has a cost.

gregq said...

What's the name of the crime?

"illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data"

She logged in as him, without his permission, for malicious reasons. That should be a crime. Happily, it is.

Should she go to jail for that? Probably not. Should she be punished, and humiliated, so that the next person in that situation is more likely to refrain from acting that you?

Heck yes!

Ann Althouse said...

"That should be a crime. Happily, it is."

Please quote the relevant provision of the Japanese criminal code. I'd be interested to read it.

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