Recent news of the sentencing of four men (1, 2) connected with Anonymous DDoS attacks on Visa, PayPal and Mastercard raises questions over the suitability of existing sentencing options and penal practices as a reaction to online offending.
For flooding these payment gateways with bogus requests such that they were no longer able to service legitimate traffic, in connection with the WikiLeaks saga, three of the four men received custodial sentences, one of which is suspended, while a fourth was reluctantly spared custody as he had been 16 at the time of the offences.
Without having read the sentencing remarks, it is difficult to tell on what basis a custodial sentence is said to be justified. Indeed, it is not immediately clear on what basis these acts are deserving of the moral label "criminal" at all. According to the news, these men were co-conspirators in a group responsible for some £3.5mn of lost revenue. A large sum of money, certainly; but, unlike these high-tech bank robbers, the men in this case did not share in £3.5mn of ill-gotten gains. Their motivations, it seems, were political.
See on www.ecrimeblog.com