"It seemed like such a straightforward example of
prosecutorial overeagerness: An Oklahoma "Good Samaritan" was being
investigated by the Justice Department for helping a newspaper fix
a website security hole.
The outcry among the geek community last month began with a
story on LinuxFreak.org entitled "Cyber Citizen Lands Felony
Charges?" Sites such as Slashdot soon picked up the tale of
24-year-old Brian K. West as evidence of out-of-control,
tech-clueless government lawyers, and urged sympathizers to e-mail
the U.S. Attorney in charge of the prosecution.
Making the story even more appealing to the open-source
community was the Microsoft angle: West was said to have reported
to the Poteau (Oklahoma) Daily News and Sun a security flaw in
Microsoft NT 4.0 IIS and Microsoft FrontPage.
But a guilty plea that West signed tells a far different story
-- and shows how easily a well-meaning community of programmers and
system administrators can be led astray."