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Operation Sundevil

From Academic Kids

Operation Sundevil was a 1990 nation-wide Secret Service crackdown on "illegal computer hacking activities". Along with the Chicago Task Force and the Arizona Organized Crime and Racketeering Bureau, they conducted raids in Austin, Cincinnati, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Tuscon, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco.

Much of Operation Sundevil was targeted at credit card thieves and telephone abusers. Other parts of the operation involved the underground ezine Phrack, which had published the contents of a proprietary text file, stolen from Bell South, containing information about the E911 emergency response system.

The best known Operation Sundevil raid targeted the offices of role-playing game company Steve Jackson Games, and started a persistent legend that the government had raided the company in order to confiscate their upcoming role-playing sourcebook called GURPS Cyberpunk, fearing that the fictional game manual was actually a "handbook for computer crime". In what became a benchmark case for electronic civil-liberties, Steve Jackson Games sued the Secret Service for their seizure of computers from the company, including the one that hosted the Illuminati BBS - and won. A federal court awarded damages and attorneys' fees to the game company, ruling that the raid had been careless, illegal, and completely unjustified. It was the first step toward establishing that online speech IS speech, and entitled to Constitutional protection... and, specifically, that law-enforcement agents can't seize and hold a BBS with impunity.

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