The majority of hackers “age out” of hacking as they get older and find girlfriends, families, and other responsibilities. Why not invest in educating young hackers sooner, instead of locking them up later?
Many kids involved in hacking view their activities as a benign form of protest, when the laws–as currently written–can criminalize some types of related behavior. “They are sitting at their computer and saying, ‘I’m not committing a crime,’ because it doesn’t feel like committing a crime,” explains Kirwan.
The FBI’s Strom said the bureau tries to draw a clear line between online protests and online attacks. “Certainly if they’re just complaining about something, they have every right to do that–and we don’t have any problem with that,” said Strom. But if they hack into a system or go after someone in law enforcement and their family, that’s a different story.
It helps to know why hackers hack. In fact, most hackers–who are older minors or young adults–”are desperately trying to assert their own independence, and believe they can make a change in the world that their parents can’t. They kind of forget that it’s their parents’ generation who invented hacking.”