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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 (opens in new tab) 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.”

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.