Two Recent Hacktivist Trials Have Dangerous Implications For A Free Internet
Twice last week, the justice system heard cases related to hacking, and in both instances, information sharing and cyberlaw were dealt a seriously heavy-handed blow. The government was the bully here, and the dorky little hacker had his glasses knocked square off his face.
It reminds us that the Internet is serious business, but also that a man’s gaping butthole can cause a lot of damage — but more on that later.
On November 20, alleged Wikileaks source Jeremy Hammond was denied bail in a New York City courtroom, and told he’s more dangerous than a sex offender because he compromised the computers of a private intelligence firm. In New Jersey, just hours later, a jury of his peers quickly convicted Andrew Auernheimer on charges of accessing a protected computer, and disclosing an AT&T security flaw while working with a group called Goatse Security. Hammond could get life in jail for his crime, and Auernheimer is likely to do a few years on a trumped-up charge for involving himself with a collective named after an Internet-famous image of a man’s wide-open rectum. Really. Look it up.
But it’s more than just a matter of sharing information, vile viral photographs, and making the world a wee-bit smarter. These rulings offer an eye-opening example of how far the government is willing to go to deter future hacktivism, even if it sets a deleterious legal precedent that could affect us all.