The three Cornell University students who pleaded guilty last month to charges stemming from the creation and release of the MBDF virus were sentenced last week in Ithaca. Tompkins County Court Judge Betty Friedlander sentenced the three to a combination of community service and monetary restitution requirements.
David Blumenthal and Mark Pilgrim, the authors of the virus, were sentenced to one year each of community service, with a ten-hour-per-week requirement. They will also be required to pay over $2400 in restitution to Cornell University and to a metropolitan New York company to cover damages and lost time. Blumenthal and Pilgrim each pleaded guilty last month to reduced charges of second-degree computer tampering, a misdemeanor.
Randall Swanson, who admitted to having helped the authors distribute the virus, was sentenced to forty-five weeks of community service (again ten hours per week) and will be required to make a lesser restitution payment. We have received conflicting details as to Swanson's sentence; unfortunately, Swanson's attorney failed to respond to our telephone calls requesting clarification. Swanson had pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct.
Judge Friedlander ordered that the three fulfill the community service portion of their sentences by teaching computer literacy classes for the underprivileged. Although we believe that community service is an appropriate sentence, it concerns us that three people who have demonstrated a lack of computer ethics will be teaching computer literacy to underprivileged youth. These young men are poor role models, and they may well impart inappropriate attitudes to their students. In addition, community service is meant as punishment, and this seems to be one of the least painful forms of community service available. We vote for making them staff a soup kitchen.