Corey Thuen, a software developer and founder of a startup called Southfork Security, is embroiled in an intellectual property dispute with his former employer. That’s nothing unusual in the tech industry, but what is unusual is a court decision in the case.
The US District Court for the State of Idaho ruled that Thuen’s hard drive could be seized and copied without notifying him first or even giving his attorney a chance to argue against the move. According to court papers, the decision came as a result of language from the Southfork Security website: “The tipping point for the Court comes from evidence that the defendants—in their own words—are hackers. By labeling themselves this way, they have essentially announced that they have the necessary computer skills and intent to simultaneously release the code publicly and conceal their role in that act.”
Critics have pointed out that many developers without any malicious intent refer to themselves as hackers, and the Southfork Security site doesn’t exactly sound like it was written by hardened criminals. The home page says, “We’re pretty good at hacking things,” but the about page adds, “Beyond hours on the clock, we like to play as hard as we work and actively participate in the security community and capture-the-flag events, or ‘hacker fights’… Our company policy advocates community participation, contribution to open-source projects, donation of time or money to relevant causes, and other activities to make this world a better place.”