Maker of Anna Kournikova virus to be prosecuted

The 20-year-old Dutchman who said he created and unleashed the so-called Anna Kournikova e-mail worm will be prosecuted, Dutch authorities said Wednesday.

The man is charged with the spreading of data via a computer network with the intent to cause damage, a crime punishable by four years in prison and a maximum fine of 100,000 Dutch guilders (US$38,770) in certain courts in the country. However, because the public prosecutor decided to try the case in a lower court the maximum penalty is six months imprisonment, up to 480 hours of civil service and a fine.

“Trying the case before the lower court implies that the prosecutor feels that a higher punishment is unjustifiable,” said Rieneke Kamminga, a spokeswoman for the public prosecutor’s office in Leeuwarden, Netherlands.

The accused, used the nickname OnTheFly – it is common practice in the Netherlands not to name people who are accused of crimes – said he created the Kournikova worm in February with a so-called worm generator. For two days the virus, under the e-mail guise of an image of Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova, spread like wildfire and infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide, according to antivirus software vendors.

After realizing what he had done, the virus author turned himself in to the police in his hometown of Sneek. He was arrested, made a statement, and then released. Police confiscated the man’s computer equipment and some poster-sized photos of Anna Kournikova.

The e-mail worm didn’t cause much damage, according to Andr