Hacker goes free as law plays catch-up

European regulators have been banging on for a while about the fact that many laws need to be modernised to meet the needs of the technological age, and a case in the Netherlands proves the point.

A student who hacked into an encrypted WiFi router to post a prank message threatening to murder his fellow students on an internet message board, has dodged hacking charges thanks to a 1993 law that defines a computer as a machine that can store, process and transmit data.

Proving that investing in a good lawyer is always worthwhile, the student’s legal representatives argued successfully that because a WiFi router can’t store data, it can’t be considered to be a computer and therefore the hacking law can’t be applied.

But the student can’t celebrate his coup just yet. Unsurprisingly, the Dutch attorney general is not happy and plans to appeal against the verdict. If successful, the appeal could result in the law being modified. Bad news for the student.