A NEW EUROPEAN INITIATIVE could see young hackers given the opportunity of a second chance, in an attempt to reduce the number of yoofs ending up in jail for a bit of back bedroom shenaniganary.
Police in the UK and Netherlands have launched "Hack_Right", designed to educate 12-23-year-olds in where they sit in relation to the law, with some said to be committing offences through ignorance of what is and isn't fair game.
A report from Cyberscoop explains that the scheme has already rolled out in the UK where it has helped 400 young people already.
"We do this … to get out and find them and get them into computing clubs before we have to investigate someone and lock them up," said Gregory Francis, acting national prevent lead at the National Cyber Crime Unit, adding that the issue is a societal one, not a law enforcement fail.
The logic is pretty simple - most people who find themselves at the wrong end of the law aren't career criminals. They're learning on the job, or showing off to friends. Many don't understand the consequences, with the Dutch Police citing figures that suggest that those on the autistic spectrum are "over-represented". It adds that often the tools that they are using are freely available, making it hard to tell that their purpose can be turned to the dark side of the web.
Under the new scheme, instead of criminal charges, the hacker will be offered a cyber-community-service option, with ethical computer training and links to established figures from the tech industry who will help them with their career prospects in tech.
To be eligible, a hacker must own up to their crimes and show a desire to change their behaviour. By keeping them out of prison, it's thought that they won't tarnish themselves with being labelled a criminal and who knows, one day they could prevent the next Heartbleed. μ
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