Edward Lazarus: I Have No Clue What the Facts Are in the Kozinski Controversy, But I’ll Write About It Anyway!
The basic facts of what happened do not seem to be in much dispute. The website in question was maintained by Judge Kozinski’s son. It was intended to be used for sharing materials within the family and a select few others. The files on the site contained some smutty material (how much is unclear), including some uploaded by Judge Kozinski, as well as a lot of innocuous stuff. Access to the site was password-protected, but the site’s security set-up was weak. As a result, a litigant with an axe to grind was able to circumvent the password protection and gain access to the site’s files, including the file with the off-color images.
. . . .
Surely, we cannot condemn someone, or at least not much, for failing to appreciate the “hackability” of his family’s password-protected website. The early stories about the site described it as “publicly accessible” – but it would be more accurate to say that the content was publicly accessible only to someone with the talent and gumption to circumvent the password security system.
Actually, it would be far less accurate to say that. Because Kozinski’s site was not password-protected.
I wonder where Lazarus got the idea that Cyrus Sanai had somehow “hacked” a “password-protected” site. Maybe he put too much credence in the ridiculous analogies of Larry Lessig, who affirmatively said that Sanai had “hacked” Kozinski’s site, and absurdly compared Sanai’s standard web-browsing techniques to residential burglary.
Lazarus had better issue a correction, and pronto. Sanai is no stranger to litigation, and this is a howler of an error.
P.S. Far too many people trusted Lessig for the facts on this, as if he were some sort of technology wizard. This is a guy who, in a subsequent post, said:
[W]ith this blog, if you download a file I’ve linked from the blog, you can easily figure out what directory that file is located in. But you can’t (without serious hacking) see the other files in that directory, or see the directory structure. That’s because those friends who have helped me set this up have disabled that ability.
P.S. “The files on the site contained some smutty material (how much is unclear) . . .” I have been looking at some of it today, having received the CD from Mr. Sanai, after an unfortunate postage mix-up that delayed the package several days. More later.