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Re: Are booby-trapped computers legal?

> There are two types of "booby traps" to consider:
> * Type 1 Booby Trap: a shotgun is placed inside a home, set to fire if and
> when a burglar enters. Or an electrified region of a room is set to "get
> energized" when an intruder enters. These are "surprises" and are canonical
> booby traps.
> These have been found to be illegal in several court cases. (I'm not a
> lawyer, but I've been reading about them for 20 years. Famous cases where a
> burglar sued, and won, because he was injured when breaking into a house.)

These are completely illegal in Texas and Florida for shure. To make such
devices legal the state legal system has to equate property value to parity
with life. See below for further comment on this.

> * Type 2 Booby Trap: electrified perimeter fences. So long as these are
> adequately marked ("If you touch this fence, you will probably die"), and
> are not public nuisances where children and pets will inadvertently
> validate Darwin's theory, these are--I think--legal. There may be license
> fees required, to build an electrified fence, but I think it is possible to
> build a lethal voltage electrified fence on one's property.
> Thus, I suspect it is fully legal to build an electrified fence around
> one's PC, providing suitable warnings are included.

As far as I know the owner of property has no legal right to kill a person
either traspassing or stealing it in any of the 50 states. There was a
recent federal ruling that basicly says that if you meet a burglar in your
home at nite you can not kill or otherwise harm them unless you're life is
directly threatened. In short, you MUST give up the ground if at all
possible. Federal and all 50 states (as far as I have been able to
determine) rule human life to have a inherantly higher value than property
of any type (this does not apply to government institutions).

In Texas and all other cattle states that I am aware of, there are specific
laws that limit how much voltage and current capacity an electrified fence
can have. These laws specificaly prohibit any form of lethal installation.
There is no license required nor do you have to mark the fences as electrified.

To address the issue of premeditation in regards to this sort of system,
does attempted murder ring any bells? If the officer(s) have warrents (and
it is not up to the accussed to decide that issue at any time) and you
refuse to assist them you are guilty of a crime (justifiably so).

> I would not call the second type a real booby trap, though some courts
> might, depending. A properly labelled electrified fence seems legal, on
> one's own property, but may not be. And certainly I think any
> explosive-rigged system is illegal, for explosives reasons if not for booby
> trap reasons.

I don't know what you call it but if nothing else it is ethicaly and moraly

> I know of no case law on this, and suspect that if an FBI agent were to be
> electrocuted or blown up upon trying to open/use/disconnect the PC, even
> with clear warnings, that a prosecution would happen. Results are unclear
> (to me).
> (I think that if an FBI agent were to be electrocuted while climbing on a
> clearly labelled electrified fence, no prosecution would result.)

Of course not, the FBI as SOP turn the electricity, water, etc. off prior to
assaults. In either case the person responsible for the electrification
would find themselves in court facing some nasty charges. The law does not
recognize the awareness of the victim in these types of cases. It in general
falls to the owner/operator to inshure safe operating conditions. In the
case off electrification this would mean current limiting on the power
supply such that no permanent damage would result to the hapless.