Today I read Andrew Auernheimer’s ‘iPad Hack Statement of Responsibilty’
From the statement:
In June of 2010 there was an AT&T webserver on the open Internet. There was an API on this server, a URL with a number at the end. If you incremented this number, you saw the next iPad 3G user email address. I thought it was egregiously negligent for AT&T to be publishing a complete target list of iPad 3G owners, and I took a sample of the API output to a journalist at Gawker.
I did this because I despised people I think are unjustly wealthy and wanted to embarrass them. I thought this is the United States of America where we have the right to do basic arithmetic and query public webservers.
I was convicted of two consecutive five-year felonies, and am now awaiting sentencing.
Essentially Andrew is facing 10 years in prison for finding personal, confidential customer information posted publicly on AT&T’s servers and taking the story to Gawker Media to embarrass AT&T. The story got a lot of press at the time and did embarrass AT&T no doubt. But they sure as hell plugged that security hole.
Then there is the well-documented case of internet activist, Aaron Swartz, who sadly killed himself recently. He too was facing the might of the US Department of Justice to the tune of up to 35 years in prison for 13 counts of wire and computer fraud. His crime was basically downloading too many JSTOR articles (academic journal papers) from the open MIT network. He felt research generated wholly or in part with public funds at non-profit universities should not be behind a pay-wall and so was motivated to rectify this.
These are two cases of individuals who, branded repeatedly as “hackers”, were facing disproportionately aggressive prosecutions for actions that at worst, could be considered acts of civil disobedience.
Disproportionate to what?
Well interestingly, Martin Luther King, Jr. during his whole career of activism faced two felonies total and was acquitted of both. Aaron Swartz faced thirteen. Andrew Auernheimer, two, just on the cases outlined above.
Also, how about the fact that AT&T was caught routing every single bit of communication data to a secret closet where it was copied by the NSA without any sort of warrant or judicial oversight. What happened to AT&T for this mother-of-all privacy violations? Congress fell over themselves to pass a law which granted retroactive immunity to AT&T for their illegal activity in assisting the NSA with their illegal activity.
Then there’s HSBC. They were recently found to have laundered money for terrorists, Mexican drug cartels and rogue states unfriendly to the West. Their punishment? A $1.9 billion fine. Or about five or six weeks of profit. And no one is facing any criminal charges.
(What would happen, I wonder, if I gave $100 to a charity even tangentially linked with a group that might itself be tangentially linked to terrorism?)
Then there’s the fact no one in the upper echelons of power faced any criminal charges for the systemic torture we now know occurred. Yet Bradley Manning will likely spend the rest of his life in jail.
None of the Too Big to Fail Banks faced criminal charges for their borderline fraudulent mortgage backed security shell game that brought the world economy crashing down. Instead they got bailouts and interest-free loans from the Fed while individual homeowners were pretty much left to their foreclosures and treated like criminals.
Can you spot the trend?
Surely this has nothing to do with such trends?
Update 1/26: Yesterday John Kiriakou, the former CIA agent and torture whistleblower was sentenced to 30 months in prison for revealing the name of a “covert operative”. This makes him the only person ever convicted under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Meanwhile, the people who ordered torture and those who did it remain free and face no consequence whatsoever.