News U.S. Hacker Sentenced to Five Years Following Crypto Lessons in North Korea

Status
Not open for further replies.

Soaptrail

Distinguished
Jan 12, 2015
264
69
18,770
1
I understand federal laws have higher prison sentences than states and cities but if this was a corporation instead of a person no jail time and a minor fine would have been the worst outcome.

I am not saying this person should not be punished but lets be realistic.
 

Krotow

Estimable
The reason behind punishment here is to deter other hippies from doing unacceptable things. Although I admit that proper public education through all country without mayhem which is happening in US educational system now, would work better in future.
 
Reactions: Why_Me

jkflipflop98

Distinguished
Feb 3, 2006
1,701
144
19,970
3
So this guy travelled to another country entirely and gave a speech on Cryptocurrencies. . . .


Now he has to to five years in prison in the USA and pay $100,000?

Seems quite heavy-handed considering cryptocurrencies aren't a threat to anyone, and they REALLY had to stretch to classify this as a "technology export".
 
Reactions: Endymio

Krotow

Estimable
Seems quite heavy-handed considering cryptocurrencies aren't a threat to anyone, and they REALLY had to stretch to classify this as a "technology export".
Odds are that Griffith did more than educated fellow commies about cryptocurrencies. From publicly known information seems he was an nail in arse for companies and government already from 2000-ies. Visit in North Korea was last straw.
 
So this guy travelled to another country entirely and gave a speech on Cryptocurrencies. . . .

Now he has to to five years in prison in the USA and pay $100,000?

Seems quite heavy-handed considering cryptocurrencies aren't a threat to anyone, and they REALLY had to stretch to classify this as a "technology export".
If a North Korean citizen did something similar, North Korea would likely have them executed upon their return. Of course, they probably wouldn't even have gotten the chance to travel outside the country anyway, and would have likely been executed trying to cross the border to get out. Just being a non-government-sanctioned "hacker" in the country might result in a similar outcome, or at least many years of heavy labor, assuming a regular citizen even managed to gain access to the resources needed to become a hacker there in the first place.

Also, the North Korean government has long been known to print large quantities of counterfeit US currency, along with illicit drug exports and the like, so the goal of any cryptocurrency presentation targeted at government officials is undoubtedly going to be centered around similar large-scale money laundering schemes. This isn't just some guy attending a public convention or something.
 
As I always said "Government loathes what it can't control". This will only speed up the adoption of a federal crypto currency which will make other crypto currencies illegal to own within 10 years.

A federal crypto will be subject to:
  1. De anonymization. All transactions will be traceable.
  2. Taxation
  3. Be 1:1 fungible with US greenbacks. (Negating tether)
It will negate any benefit the proponents of crypto like to porpet: privacy with anonymous wallets, lack of govt control, tax free, investable. And I'm okay with that.
 

jacob249358

Prominent
Sep 8, 2021
630
214
790
12
As I always said "Government loathes what it can't control". This will only speed up the adoption of a federal crypto currency which will make other crypto currencies illegal to own within 10 years.

A federal crypto will be subject to:
  1. De anonymization. All transactions will be traceable.
  2. Taxation
  3. Be 1:1 fungible with US greenbacks. (Negating tether)
It will negate any benefit the proponents of crypto like to porpet: privacy with anonymous wallets, lack of govt control, tax free, investable. And I'm okay with that.
Why would you be ok with that? That's total government control and things would spiral into dictatorship real quick. Dont follow their agenda? they will freeze all your accounts so you cant buy anything. We could even end up with a social credit system and if you have a bad score you get extra taxes or frozen accounts. Scary stuff imo
 
Reactions: 10tacle

Co BIY

Distinguished
Jun 18, 2015
732
153
19,190
9
He's lucky he made it back from NK to face prosecution.

The association of Crypto tech and North Korea doesn't really support it's claims as a pure tool for freedom.

More likely it's "dual-use" and the moral content will be determined by the user.
 
Why would you be ok with that? That's total government control and things would spiral into dictatorship real quick. Dont follow their agenda? they will freeze all your accounts so you cant buy anything. We could even end up with a social credit system and if you have a bad score you get extra taxes or frozen accounts. Scary stuff imo
The US Government can do that now with any bank account. It's not something I particularly agree with, but it will stop crooks from profiting as every transaction is monitored. And technically speaking, you could still keep your American Crypto in an exchange, like Switzerland, or some other country. The hosting country would just be required to track it and report it back to the USA. (Like they do now) USA can't touch funds in other countries. Can they stick you in jail for tax evasion? Sure. Touch those funds? Nope.

When you start hacking and threatening infrastructure for anonymous money, then it becomes a national security issue. Also, when some exchange gets hacked, and there is no way to trace it, then yes it's a problem. When most crypto works on POW and it's less environmentally friendly than cash, then yes, it's a problem. When multi millionaires or rogue nations hide assets to avoid taxes/sanctions, then yes it is a problem.

If you don't like the way government is run, you vote them out of power.
 
Last edited:

Endymio

Notable
Aug 3, 2020
554
164
1,070
2
Odds are that Griffith did more than educated fellow commies about cryptocurrencies. From publicly known information seems he was an nail in arse for companies and government already from 2000-ies. Visit in North Korea was last straw.
That's not how the justice system is supposed to work. You don't target people for being "nail-in-arses" for non-criminal acts.

Furthermore, attempting to ban knowledge itself is a dangerous road to travel, and one doomed to failure. Some of you may well remember the US's "munitions" ban of crypto algorithms, which led to many people wearing T-shirts with the RSA source code printed on them -- a technical violation of the law for which each of them could have prosecuted just as this individual was.
 
Reactions: jacob249358
That's not how the justice system is supposed to work. You don't target people for being "nail-in-arses" for non-criminal acts.

Furthermore, attempting to ban knowledge itself is a dangerous road to travel, and one doomed to failure. Some of you may well remember the US's "munitions" ban of crypto algorithms, which led to many people wearing T-shirts with the RSA source code printed on them -- a technical violation of the law for which each of them could have prosecuted just as this individual was.
Aiding an rogue nation station with evading sanctions is most certainly a criminal act. No funding = no new toys like nuclear bombs & missiles.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
154,730
11,274
176,090
24,154
That's not how the justice system is supposed to work. You don't target people for being "nail-in-arses" for non-criminal acts.

Furthermore, attempting to ban knowledge itself is a dangerous road to travel, and one doomed to failure. Some of you may well remember the US's "munitions" ban of crypto algorithms, which led to many people wearing T-shirts with the RSA source code printed on them -- a technical violation of the law for which each of them could have prosecuted just as this individual was.
Attempting to ban knowledge is one thing. Can't be done.

But going to a country that is specifically at the top of the DoNotGoThere list and teaching them about it is something else completely.

Actions have consequences. Sometimes, quite deep consequences.
Rules and laws apply, no matter how much a person may think they don't.

It is illegal to export information about technology X, to specifically named countries.
It is illegal for a US citizen to travel to North Korea on a US passport.

These laws existed long before this dude got it in his head to do this.
 

Endymio

Notable
Aug 3, 2020
554
164
1,070
2
It is illegal to export information about technology X, to specifically named countries.
It is illegal for a US citizen to travel to North Korea on a US passport.

These laws existed long before this dude got it in his head to do this.
Whups! But he wasn't charged with travelling illegally to North Korea. He was charged with 'advising' North Korea on blockchain technology - technology that is already widely disseminated on the Internet -- even in North Korea. How can you "export" something that's already there?
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
154,730
11,274
176,090
24,154
Whups! But he wasn't charged with travelling illegally to North Korea. He was charged with 'advising' North Korea on blockchain technology - technology that is already widely disseminated on the Internet -- even in North Korea. How can you "export" something that's already there?
Neither of us know the exact details or the full charges.

But if they already knew it, why did he go there to teach them?

But this -
"aiding North Korea in avoiding U.S. sanctions "
"sensitive and highly technical information that would allow for the circumvention of U.S. sanctions deployed throughout classic (non-crypto) financial systems "

That may have been the turning point?

And this - "It didn't help Griffith's case that he actively circumvented the absence of a travel permit by entering North Korea via China. "
 

Endymio

Notable
Aug 3, 2020
554
164
1,070
2
Neither of us know the exact details or the full charges.
Eh, what? Of course we do. Federal indictments are a matter of public record. He wasn't even charged with violating a congressional statute, but rather two executive orders related to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

But if they already knew it, why did he go there to teach them?
He didn't. He gave one talk at a public crypto-conference, hosted in North Korea.

And this - "It didn't help Griffith's case that he actively circumvented the absence of a travel permit by entering North Korea via China. "
Irrelevant. He wasn't charged with that as a crime ... most likely because he wasn't a US resident at the time of travel, and it's unclear whether he was even legally required to seek one.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
154,730
11,274
176,090
24,154
"Of course we do" ?

Really. You've read and digested the entire indictment?

"most likely because he wasn't a US resident at the time of travel "
So you're just guessing?

If he is a US citizen (just just residence), it is required to get State Dept approval prior to travel.

Don't like the law? 2 options:
  1. Get the federal law changed.
  2. Become a citizen of somewhere else and renounce your US citizenship.
Good luck with both of those.



Have fun defending this clown.
I'm out.
 

Endymio

Notable
Aug 3, 2020
554
164
1,070
2
You've read and digested the entire indictment?
I've read the entire charging document from the SDNY, the office that charged him. I've also been following the case since his arrest in 2019 -- unlike certain people here, who's knowledge of the case doesn't extend beyond three paragraphs penned by a part-time amateur journalist. By the way, when the federal government has a strong case, they don't wait 3 years after arrest, then announce a plea deal.

Don't like the law? 2 options:
  1. Get the federal law changed.
  2. Become a citizen of somewhere else and renounce your US citizenship.
Actually, he did renounce his US citizenship. And once again -- he wasn't charged with violating a federal law. He was charged with violating an executive order relating to the IEPPA, an order intended for war or national emergency.
 
You can't sanction information itself, especially when it's already public knowledge. You act as if he delivered nuclear bomb parts to Kim.
You know some things are not common knowledge but are easy to figure out, like how to get around tamper seals on medicine. But you are still liable if you provide knowledge, even if it seems obvious to you. You don't make it easier for a foreign adversary to free knowledge. I mean H bombs are fairly easy to a number of nuclear scientist. You don't sit there and publish the plans.

Money enables people to function. Crypto allows rogue nations to get money. Rogue nations use that money to make weapons.
 

Endymio

Notable
Aug 3, 2020
554
164
1,070
2
You know some things are not common knowledge but are easy to figure out, like how to get around tamper seals on medicine. But you are still liable if you provide knowledge
You miss the point. The entire purpose of stamping "classified" on documents to to remove doubt as to whether or not that information is restricted. And, even though a non-stamped document may still contain classified knowledge, if you provide that knowledge to someone without knowing it's classified nature, you are not guilty of a crime. You've done nothing wrong.

In this case, the government didn't ban a specific bit of information. They decided after the fact that some very general knowledge about blockchains might assist North Korea in evading sanctions. If you post to a message board that you believe sanctions on Russia won't work, because Russia will simply buy through China, have you just aided Russia in evading those sanctions, by stating the obvious?

In this case, it's even more absurd. Nothing this man said in his brief speech was more than common knowledge. I've seen more detailed information on the benefits of blockchains posted to this very message board. Under the theory of this indictment, North Korea can freely access that information from this board --- but if you print a hard copy of this page and walk into North Korea with it, you're suddenly guilty of a heinous felony. It's nonsensical, and indefensible.
 
You miss the point. The entire purpose of stamping "classified" on documents to to remove doubt as to whether or not that information is restricted. And, even though a non-stamped document may still contain classified knowledge, if you provide that knowledge to someone without knowing it's classified nature, you are not guilty of a crime. You've done nothing wrong.

In this case, the government didn't ban a specific bit of information. They decided after the fact that some very general knowledge about blockchains might assist North Korea in evading sanctions. If you post to a message board that you believe sanctions on Russia won't work, because Russia will simply buy through China, have you just aided Russia in evading those sanctions, by stating the obvious?

In this case, it's even more absurd. Nothing this man said in his brief speech was more than common knowledge. I've seen more detailed information on the benefits of blockchains posted to this very message board. Under the theory of this indictment, North Korea can freely access that information from this board --- but if you print a hard copy of this page and walk into North Korea with it, you're suddenly guilty of a heinous felony. It's nonsensical, and indefensible.
The fact he was sharing TECHNICAL KNOWHOW to a rogue nation that is hungry for an anonymous currency should have been red flags. I mean that's a no brainer. Even if he was that stupid, ignorance of the law is not an excuse. That has been tested in court multiple times.
 

Endymio

Notable
Aug 3, 2020
554
164
1,070
2
Even if he was that stupid, ignorance of the law is not an excuse. That has been tested in court multiple times.
You've missed the argument entirely. Everyone knows disseminating classified information is a crime. But if you're ignorant of the fact that a particular bit of information is classified, you're not guilty of a crime by passing that on to anyone. The government has to specify precisely what is and isn't classified, and make you aware of that in some manner. If a street sign in your neighborhood states "35mph", you can be ticketed for doing 40. But if that sign states "don't go too fast", exactly at what speed have you commited a crime?

To make the example more relevant, the US government bans export of advanced chip technology to Russia. That obviously covers proprietary trade-secret designs. But if you tell a Russian that "AMD chips are faster than Intel", or "NVidia GPUs can ray-trace", have you exported advanced chip technology to Russia and violated federal sanctions?
 
You've missed the argument entirely. Everyone knows disseminating classified information is a crime. But if you're ignorant of the fact that a particular bit of information is classified, you're not guilty of a crime by passing that on to anyone. The government has to specify precisely what is and isn't classified, and make you aware of that in some manner. If a street sign in your neighborhood states "35mph", you can be ticketed for doing 40. But if that sign states "don't go too fast", exactly at what speed have you commited a crime?

To make the example more relevant, the US government bans export of advanced chip technology to Russia. That obviously covers proprietary trade-secret designs. But if you tell a Russian that "AMD chips are faster than Intel", or "NVidia GPUs can ray-trace", have you exported advanced chip technology to Russia and violated federal sanctions?
The state department DENIED him transit to North Korea. He had to enter through China. He was subversive and defiant. He knew what he was doing.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

ASK THE COMMUNITY