Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - A fraudulently-registered Internet website that for nearly a month misrepresented the views of and claimed to be operated by pro-gun researcher Dr. John Lott was allegedly the target of illegal hacking Tuesday night by an unidentified person or group supportive of the Second Amendment.
"OK! I've got the site now! Now the tables have turned and they're going to jail, without a penny to their names," the anonymous hacker wrote. "What kind of message should we leave to all those commie b******* ... let me know what you think of this: 'If you mess with the 2nd amendment [sic] then we'll mess with the 1st!'" (Asterisks indicate deletion of profanity not in original form.)
The original creator of the fraudulent "AskJohnLott.org" website has since regained control of it and replaced the original content with an explanatory note.
"AskJohnLott.org was recently hacked by someone who values the Second Ammendment [sic] but not the First," the site's creator claims. "Although we at AskJohnLott.org can understand why pro-gun extremists would be afraid of free speech, we believe that the entire Bill of Rights should be upheld."
The site now provides links to three websites, one of which is a web log hosted by a university lecturer in Australia and another to a site operated by the anti-Second Amendment organization "Handgun Free America."
"Ask John Lott will be restored soon," the site's owner continued. "Thanks, and long live the Bill of Rights!"
Lott, whose legitimate website is located at www.johnrlott.com, was initially skeptical of the claim that the site had been hacked.
"I guess I just don't believe that," he told CNSNews.com Wednesday.
Lott expressed satisfaction that the fraudulent claims about his research and positions were no longer online, but displeasure with how it allegedly happened.
"I don't support anybody hacking into a site, it's wrong," he said considering the possibility that the hacking claim was authentic. "Obviously the material that they had up there was wrong too, but I believe it was wrong to hack into the site."
Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, shared Lott's skepticism about the hacking claim.
"I think we have to assume that the owner of the fraudulent site that hijacked John Lott's name is running scared," Pratt speculated. "And certainly, until we know for sure, it's a possibility that he may have hacked this to try to throw off the scent."
If the website was hacked, as the unidentified owner claims, the person or people responsible for the unauthorized access and changes to the website could be prosecuted under federal law barring "Fraud and related activity in connection with computers (18 USC 1030).
The statute provides that anyone who "intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access" may be prosecuted if he or she "intentionally accesses a protected computer without authorization, and as a result of such conduct, recklessly causes damage." Computers "protected" by the law include those owned by the U.S. government or containing classified information, medical or financial records or any computer "which is used in interstate or foreign commerce or communication."
Penalties for violations depend on the type of "protected computer" accessed without authorization and range from one to 20 years imprisonment and unspecified fines.
See Earlier Stories:
Fraudulent 'Ask John Lott' Website Now Claims to Be Parody (Aug. 6, 2003)
Gun Statistics Expert John Lott Victim of Identity Theft (Aug. 4, 2003)
E-mail a news tip to Jeff Johnson.
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