Our sympathy with his side of the case has nothing to do with his Asperger's syndrome, though that might have a bearing in many cases. Nor can it be denied that he broke the law though why the UK government insists that his crimes took place in the US (where the allegedly hacked servers were) rather than the UK (where the actual hacking acts originated) will probably take the 30-year rule to come to light.
In fact, McKinnon is being pursued because of his irrelevance, not in spite of it. He is a man who conducted his naive exploits eight years ago, a tiny pimple next to the daily huge crimes committed against US servers by organised hackers, criminal gangs and others in it for profit or just to sell their findings to the highest-bidding enemy of the US.
Pursuing those people for their infinitely greater crimes is pointless because the US has no idea who they are, where they are, and even if they did there is little chance of them being able to extradite a Chinese, Russian, Iranian or even Ukrainian citizen in any case. Those people are beyond the law at the moment, so the authorities looking for a head to stick on the city gates would rather pick on the little guy, an easier victim.
If McKinnon is being made an example of, what is the example being set here? Simple: if you want to hack anything on US territory make sure you do it from one a number of countries that don't like the US, make sure you have organised help, and most of all don't do it through an IP that is easy to trace.
In fact, if you are determined, make sure the crime is as massive and embarrassing as possible because the US authorities wouldn't dare come after you if you are that organised, clever and antipathetic to US interests. What's the point? It would be a huge waste of their time for no headlines.
Whatever the outcome of the McKinnon case, the time-wasting pursuit of the pranksters has to be put into perspective before something serious happens. By all means give the Gary McKinnon figures a heavy fine or jail time, but don't forget that the real criminals will be laughing their heads off until serious work is put into holding them to account. Right now that just looks too much like hard work.
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