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Making hacking legal would take out the fun

Different hackathons and codefests might celebrate hacking and security breaches (for scientific purposes only, of course), but there is a debate going on, whether or not actual hacking should be legalised.

If that was to happen, finding an exploit or breaking into someone’s website would no longer be considered a criminal activity. Even though many would celebrate this decision, there are others who believe this shouldn’t happen.

Among those people is Adrián Lamo, staple of [so-called] hacker top-10 lists, on Quora.

In a post published on Quora, he says hacking should not be legalised, as it’s the pressure of the illegal activity that helps mold and mature a hacker's mind. He’s basically saying if you make it legal, you’re taking out all the fun out of it.

He also said “it’s never a good idea to take behaviour prone to teenage hijinks and make it consequence-free.”

However, he does distinguish “harmless transparent hacking” from other types, which I’m guessing are harmful, muddy hackings. These harmless ones could be decriminalised, he believes.

“This should be closer to “$1000 fine” stuff in most cases than “10 years in prison + felony + $20,000 fine” stuff. Most hackers are not malicious, and while I’m not saying that lack of malice should excuse anything, I do believe that USG’s failure to distinguish between malice and curiosity in the prosecutorial system has poisoned the well for relations between hackers & USG.”

“This is a self-defeating sternness that diminishes national security by depriving us of the relations that, say, China or North Korea enjoy with their domestic hacker population,” he concludes.

He says a largely unremarked upon hacker cold war exists today between state actors.

“In that war, we face a hacker gap. It’s one that will only continue to grow until our government lets itself reconcile with a population whose experience has been long on suspicion and short on rapprochement.”