A Japanese court has acquitted a man accused of hijacking the computers of the visitors to his website for mining cryptocurrency.
As reported by the local news outlet Japan Times on March 27, the 31-year old man was using Coinhive and ran the script on his website visitors’ computers without their permission.
Coinhive is an API script which uses the spare computing power of a computer to mine privacy-focused cryptocurrency Monero.
The prosecutor called for a JPY 100,000 (around $900) fine to be levied against the accused saying that his actions have financially impacted the victims by increasing their electricity consumption. Arguments were also made against not seeking permissions from the website visitors before running the script.
However, in the ruling, the Yokohama District Court said that it would be “excessive” to punish the accused as the script cannot be considered a computer virus.
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The preceding judge also mentioned that “[the man’s action] does not constitute a crime as we cannot say embedding the program was socially unacceptable.”
According to the report, the man had introduced Coinhive to his website between October and November 2017.
Two Courts, Two Opposite Rulings
Interestingly, last year, another Japanese court sentenced a 24-year old person to a year in prison for indulging into similar cryptojacking activity, Finance Magnates reported. That person too was reportedly using Coinhive software to mine Monero on other people’s computers.
In December last year, a report from cybersecurity firm McAfee detailed that the use of cryptojacking malware has increased by 4,000 percent over the course of 2018. Many popular websites, online tools, and plugins were previously caught for using such shady tactics to monetize their businesses.
Despite the popularity of mining crypto on somebody else’s computer using a script, Coinhive could not sustain financially and shut its crypto mining services earlier this month. The company cited the drastic price drop of Monero as the key reason behind its shut down.