The hacking of three years of Bush family e-mails by someone who calls himself or herself Guccifer isn’t a prank or a political statement. It’s a violation of privacy that every American family can relate to. In the ongoing struggle to define the boundaries of Internet crimes (witness the controversy after the recent suicide of Reddit founder Aaron Swartz), this one requires no hand-wringing. Guccifer is rightly the subject of a criminal probe by the Secret Service.
The e-mails, obtained by the website The Smoking Gun, include a raft of personal material, from get-well wishes from President and Mrs. Obama to the ailing George H.W. Bush to former president George W. Bush soliciting anecdotes about his father from his siblings. There was also a self-portrait by George W. Bush sent to his sister, Dorothy Bush Koch. And perhaps most alarmingly, there was the alarm security code for a Bush residence in Texas.
No doubt, after Guccifer is apprehended, he or she will claim to have done the world a favor, showing that if even former presidents’ e-mails can be hacked, no one else’s is safe. But there’s no evidence that the perpetrator tried to alert authorities about the security breaches. Regardless, the best way to prevent similar violations in the future is through a stiff penalty for today’s perpetrators.