The Salsa Wars

Casino style has become wildly popular, but the real action is taking place off the dance floor

The penalties for hacking under federal law are serious: a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or up to twice the gross loss to the victim. A first-time offender will spend a minimum of six months in jail. "Victims can start a civil lawsuit," advises Debbie Weierman of the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center in Washington, D.C. "State laws are also probably being violated too, so there could be other prosecutions and maybe even harsher penalties depending on state laws."

Castro estimates it has cost her and Mejia roughly $2000 to fix the damage to the site; lost readers and advertising revenues could be a future concern. But perhaps most costly to SalsaPower, and impossible to quantify, has been the controversy itself, which already has prompted several content changes on the site. Also Castro and Mejia have switched to a different HTML authoring program they believe will make their site more secure.

Hurtado isn't fazed by Castro's allegations. "It might look bad, but I know for a fact it had nothing to do with Salsa United," he says. "No way in hell she could prove that. If she really had proof, she could sue Salsa United. I have no idea who did it, but I know Jacira has a lot of enemies in this town."

Meanwhile the bickering continues to degenerate into self-destructive silliness. On August 5 and again three days later, the owners of eleven salsa schools, including Hurtado, sent Castro an e-mail. In a protest move that can only be considered counterproductive, the eleven Salsa United members demanded Castro remove their schools from her listings pages. "If our requests are not granted," the letter concludes, "we will be forced to take legal action."

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