Jan de Wit, 20, a resident of Sneek, the Netherlands, authored the infamous Anna Kournikova worm, which promised racy pictures of the Russian tennis pin up but delivered only misery for businesses worldwide, placing a grave load on e-mail systems as it spread.
Days after its release, de
Wit, aka OnTheFly came forward to admit his role to the authorities.
At the trial, US investigators were only able to list 55 incidents of infection, causing just $166,827 worth of damage. This lack of proven damage led to a meagre sentencing for de Wit.
He was charged with spreading data into a computer network with the intention of causing damage and sentenced to 150 hours of community service.
The verdict stated de Wit "was not a layman in the field of computer viruses. He works in a computer store and collected viruses - about 7,200, according to himself. The defendant must have been very aware of the consequences of his acts. The virus he spread was a hindrance, causing worry and annoyance among Internet users worldwide."
Wit admitted creating the worm using a virus creation toolkit but told the court when he posted the virus to a newsgroup he did it "without thinking" and "without overseeing the consequences". He denied any intent to cause damage.
It was the first time in Dutch history that a writer of a computer virus was tried.
Saying he never intended any harm, Witt appealed against the sentence but lost his appeal.