The conviction of Robert Morris, 25, of Arnold, Md., for unleashing a computer "worm" program in 1988 should be overturned because he didn't intend to paralyze thousands of computers linked to a nationwide program, his attorney told an appeals court Tuesday.
Three judges of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who heard oral arguments, reserved decision. The former Cornell University graduate student was sentenced to three years probation as the first person tried and convicted under a 1986 federal computer fraud and abuse law that makes it a felony to break into a federal computer network.
Morris had testified he had made a programming error that caused the worm to go berserk in the Internet system Nov. 2, 1988, but did not intend to cause permanent damage to computer files.