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Which highlights a fundamental truth to law - it's only enforced to backstop the status quo. Routing around a wifi paywall rocks the boat, performing invasive surveillance on website visitors doesn't.

So practically yes, let's be aware that the author could indeed be persecuted under the CFAA. But let's not grandstand and pretend that following that law is some sort of moral imperative that benefits everyone. The common individual will be the target of the same attacks with or without that law.




Following the law may not be a moral imperative, but let's not pretend like the author did anything moral here. He knowingly and with intent stole services from the airline. It not only was illegal, it's blatantly immoral.


The thing about morals is that we can disagree. Just because this scenario fits your definition of "stole" does not mean it fits mine.

My perspective is that a fundamental aspect of the Internet and the digital world is that the software-codified rules are basically authoritative. While constructive behavior still does matter - eg knowingly turning off a hospital ventilator is still murder - the only gain here was temporarily obtaining some transit. The real remedy is for the provider to fix their systems.


> My perspective is that a fundamental aspect of the Internet and the digital world is that the software-codified rules are basically authoritative.

Do you think that hacking per se is ever immoral?


I suspect you're still associating hacking with other actions that can be facilitated by hacking. But the very next thing I wrote was "knowingly turning off a hospital ventilator is still murder", so it only makes sense to answer as if you strongly intend the "per se".

In isolation, why would finding a hole in someone else's ruleset be immoral? If hacking per se were immoral, then there could be no such thing as a "white hat".


> I suspect you're still associating hacking with other actions that can be facilitated by hacking.

I specifically wrote "per se", so no - I'm not.

> If hacking per se were immoral, then there could be no such thing as a "white hat".

White hat hacking it typically specifically authorized (e.g. red teams). That is not the case with the example from the article.

In the locksport community there is a pretty strong norm to only pick locks you own or have specific authorization to pick.

Computer security not the same thing, but it's also not that different.


> White hat hacking [is] typically specifically authorized (e.g. red teams)

That is merely one kind of white hat hacking. Another kind would be figuring out an exploit for software that you have a local copy of, even against the wishes of its developer. If we agree that this is moral, then general finding of holes itself cannot be immoral.

I don't think you mean to imply that in locksport, you only pick models of locks that the manufacturer has given you the go-ahead to attack. Rather you're referring to ownership of the physical lock itself, which is merely one type of authorization. I would also guess that the reason the community repeats this prominently is to head off legal entanglement.

To the extent that a given ruleset only exists on a specific device that one does not own, then it is indeed hard to find holes in it without also affecting that device itself. However, it is still important to draw the distinction between any effects and the logical hacking itself, lest minor effects end up being persecuted inequitably.

In the context of the original article, there are essentially no damages and a little bit of unjust enrichment. Yet this whole thread has blown up about a spectre of harsh punishment under the CFAA, when equity is closer to the amount of the access fee.


It’s also immoral to force bad pricing down customer throats. And yet that is the definition of the inflight wifi business.

EDIT: I’m fairly sure at current prices a single flight could pay for a month’s service for a single plane, probably several times over. The profit margins (& I imagine some the cut to the airline) must be enormous, & there is no pretense of fair terms at sale time because a single corporation can entirely monopolize your attention.


> It’s also immoral to force bad pricing down customer throats. And yet that is the definition of the inflight wifi business.

In what bizarro world are people being forced to buy inflight wifi?


The profit margin for luxury addons is always insane. That doesn't make them unethical. In fact, there's a very good argument to be made that luxury pricing is positively ethical, as it allows the base experience to be offered for a lower price to more price-sensitive customers.


> In fact, there's a very good argument to be made that luxury pricing is positively ethical, as it allows the base experience to be offered for a lower price to more price-sensitive customers.

How come that isn't happening here?

Anyway, it's a commodity. The positioning of it as a luxury service amounts to theft.




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