Lots of people feel that the sentence handed out to Sasser worm author Sven Jaschan, scarcely more severe that being sent to bed without any supper, will not act as much of a deterrent. And they are no doubt right, but few would go as far as US economics professor Steven Landsburg, who argues for, well, death.
In a charming article for Slate magazine entitled “Feed the Worms Who Write Worms to the Worms”, published in May last year, Landsburg calculates the relative value to US society of its death-row policy for convicted murderers. By using studies estimating the deterrent value of the electric chair and equivalents, he suggests that forcibly pushing one murderer off life’s mortal coil prevents ten other murders, translating to around $100m in social benefits.
The benefits of executing a hacker, however, would be considerably higher, he argues, given estimates of damage that top $50bn per year. Deterring just one in 500 hackers would save society $100m.
Sneak is not entirely convinced, but does feel it’s worth a try...
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