A Florida Teen Is Facing Felony Charges for "Hacking" Computers With Photos of Men Kissing


On Wednesday, authorities in Florida's Pasco County announced they had arrested 14-year-old Domanik Green and charged him with felony hacking for breaking into a teacher's computer at the Paul R. Smith Middle School, where he attended, and replacing its background with an image of two men kissing. 

"His parents were warned about this; he didn't heed that warning," Kevin Doll, community relations director for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office told Mic. "He had been suspended for three days prior to this for doing the same thing."

Doll told Mic that in his latest attempt, Green had tried to put pornography on the computer, but after that had failed, he ultimately settled for the image of two men kissing. Green also theoretically had access to Florida's 2014 Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) questions but, according to Doll, authorities did not think he tampered with anything there.  

Green told the Tampa Bay Times that he had attempted to put the offending images on the computer of a teacher he didn't like, "to annoy him."

For this heinous act, Green could now face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Doll told Mic that it was not unusual for a 14-year-old boy to be charged as an adult, saying that, "he fit the statute for the crime."

"Even though some might say this is just a teenage prank, who knows what this teenager might have done," Sheriff Chris Nocco told the Tampa Bay Times

Neither Green nor his mother, Eileen Foster, could be reached for comment.

Wait a minute. Unfortunately for Sheriff Nocco, we don't live in Minority Report. What a 14-year-old boy "might have done" in any given situation might be interesting to speculate about, but should not be relevant in the context of any current crime. 

More to the point, what evidence does exist indicates that far from a malicious hacking attempt, Green had just been trying to play a practical joke. Since he made no effort to tamper or even view FCAT data, Green's far more serious breach appears to have been incidental. 

"I don't know why he was charged, specifically," Linda Cobbe, a spokesperson for Pasco County Schools, told Mic. She said it was clear that it was not Green's intention to hack the state's FCAT data and that he was just "trying that password on several computers."

Though Cobbe said the FCAT computer had been clearly marked, had Green not landed on it as he roved from computer to computer, she said it was unlikely that police would have become involved. 

Cobbe said the school was still investigating how Green found the password, but said an explanation Green gave to the Tampa Bay Times where he said it was a teacher's last name was false. 

"[That] doesn't seem logical," said Cobbe, who noted that for reasons which were unclear, the password had been easier than most of the school's other randomly generated ones. Another report on WFLA suggested that a teacher had given out the password some time in the past.

Cobbe also adamantly rejected speculation that the criminal charges were related to the LGBT content that Green had uploaded.

Bigger Problems. When it comes to Florida policing, any independent observer would probably agree that the state has bigger problems than Domanik Green. In 2013, Florida saw nearly 1,000 murders, close to 10,000 cases of "forcible sex offenses" and over 23,000 robberies. In each of these cases, people were caused direct harm, and while overall crime in the state has been falling, wasting police resources on a blown-up charge of hacking doesn't help anyone and could only act to reverse those gains.

Doll essentially admitted the case was a wash, telling Mic that it would likely be settled without trial. "I think this is his first criminal offensive," said Doll, who speculated that the case would likely be sent to the state's "juvenile diversion" program for minor offenses, and that Green would ultimately end up doing community service.

For her part, Cobbe told Mic that since the story broke, the school has been inundated with hate mail and that the district is eager to put the episode behind them. She indicated that Green, who also received a 10-day suspension, would probably be back at school sometime next week.

h/t Tampa Bay Times