Programmer Faces 15 Years In Jail For Planting Virus That Automatically Broke Whac-A-Mole Games

Slashdot points us to a fascinating story of a programmer named Marvin Wimberly, who is facing charges for sabotaging the famous Whac-A-Mole games with a logic bomb that would “break” the machines after a pre-determined number of times that it was turned on and off. The idea was that each time these broke, Wimberly would be called in for a repair. Of course, with each “repair,” he’d install another logic bomb. Since he was the only one who knew the real “problem,” he figured it was a form of job security. His company couldn’t let him go, because no one else could fix the problem.

Of course, now that it’s been discovered he’s apparently facing 15 years in prison. What’s a bit odd, though, is the statute under which he’s being charged. It’s a Florida state law for “offenses against intellectual property.” Reading through the statute, it seems like a rather odd use of the phrase “intellectual property.”

Whoever willfully, knowingly, and without authorization modifies data, programs, or supporting documentation residing or existing internal or external to a computer, computer system, or computer network commits an offense against intellectual property.

The statute definitely seems pretty broad. What’s wrong with just charging the guy with garden variety fraud statutes?

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