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AlterNIC founder arrested

The FBI confirms that AlterNIC founder Eugene Kashpureff was arrested in Toronto on U.S. charges related to wire fraud.

    An FBI official confirmed today that AlterNIC founder Eugene Kashpureff was arrested Friday in Toronto on U.S. charges related to wire fraud.

    In July, Kashpureff hijacked InterNIC's URL, sending surfers trying to get to "www.internic.net" to his own site at "www.alternic.net" in what he called a "protest."

    Almost immediately, he knew he could be facing federal computer crime charges for his actions, he said.

    Authorities arrested Kashpureff after weeks of investigation, said Joe Valiquette, a spokesman for the FBI in New York. (See related story)

    Marc Hurst, a spokesman for the AlterNIC, said Kashpureff was scheduled for a deportation hearing today.

    Hurst said he had been contacted a few weeks ago by Canadian immigration authorities who were looking for Kashpureff because he was wanted by the FBI on warrants for several counts of wire fraud.

    Network Solutions (NSI), which runs the InterNIC registry that Kashpureff was protesting, had taken Kashpureff to court, but the case was settled. Kashpureff apologized to the Internet community and tried to help inform it how to fix a program that would prevent someone else from perpetrating the same kind of domain name hijacking.

    But apparently his troubles did not end in August with the court settlement.

    Along with taking Kashpureff to civil court, Network Solutions had contacted law enforcement officials who were investigating whether Kashpureff had broken federal computer crime laws.

    A spokesman said at the time that Network Solutions originally had not been planning to file charges against Kashpureff. Kashpureff originally started rerouting pages on July 11. He stopped on July 14; but then he got angry and did it again on July 18. That's when officials from Network Solutions decided to take him to court, an official said.

    "What Kashpureff did was attack the Net," a Network Solutions official stated today in an email message. "He directly polluted cache in local servers that did not have an updated version of BIND."

    BIND is a program that controls the Internet's Domain Name System protocol. Alerts have since been issued to encourage system administrators to update their copies of BIND.

    Hurst said today that although he doesn't condone any alleged crime that Kashpureff may have committed, he was surprised by the vehemence with which he said Kashpureff was pursued.

    Hurst said he was originally contacted several weeks ago by immigration authorities looking for Kashpureff.

    When Kashpureff, a father of four, perpetrated the hack, he said he was angry and hadn't thought about the ramifications. Some in the Internet community applauded his actions, saying they were needed to draw attention to what they saw as Network Solutions' monopoly on the domain naming system.

    Others criticized Kashpureff, saying that he acted rashly, hurt the cause, and deserved punishment.

    But both Hurst and Richard Sexton, who also worked with Kashpureff on the AlterNIC, said that even those who disagreed with Kashpureff would likely find the charges to be outrageous.

    "The most you could have lost is two seconds and one mouse-click," Sexton said. "It is fraud, but the fiscal damage amounts to zero. He should be found guilty and fined a dollar."

    "I was surprised by the seriousness with which this was treated," Hurst said. "He's a computer guy. He's not a serial killer. He didn't cause any airports to black out. He didn't cause a blackout in a hospital. He redirected some Web pages."