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Canadian Arrested Over Plans to Test G20 Security 392

Posted by timothy
from the now-that's-forward-thinking dept.
epiphani writes "Byron Sonne, of Toronto, was arrested today by a task force of around 50 police officers associated with the G20 summit taking place this week. An independent contractor, IT security specialist and private investigator, he had notable ties to the Toronto technology and security communities. According to friends and associates, he had been purchasing goods online and speaking with security groups about building devices to collect unencrypted police broadcasts and relay them through Twitter, as well as other activities designed to test the security of the G20 summit. By all accounts, it would appear that Mr. Sonne had no actual malicious intent. In Canada, the summit has been garnering significant press for the cost and invasive nature of the security measures taken." "By all accounts" may not be quite right; the charges against Sonne, exaggerated or not, involve weapons, explosives, and intimidation.
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Canadian Arrested Over Plans to Test G20 Security

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  • by butterflysrage (1066514) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:29PM (#32682182)

    Here in Canada that translates to a rusty fork, vinegar and baking soda, and not saying 'please'.

    • by Jabrwock (985861) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:32PM (#32682234) Homepage
      People mark this as funny, but it's true. /. needs a "funny yet true" mod.

      If you have a butter knife or stapler on you (or in your car when they pull you over), and they arrest you for anything, then you can get charged with "possession of a weapon"...

      • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:39PM (#32682338) Homepage

        If you have a butter knife or stapler on you (or in your car when they pull you over), and they arrest you for anything, then you can get charged with "possession of a weapon"...

        Dude, a stapler?? Are you kidding me? That will get you Tasered to death [wikipedia.org] in Canada.

        I wish I was joking. :(

        • by Jabrwock (985861) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:54PM (#32682536) Homepage
          Fortunately, the inquiry on THAT particular incident tore the RCMP a new one over their over-reaction.

          RCMP wrong to use Taser on Dziekanski: report [www.cbc.ca]

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by gstoddart (321705)

            Fortunately, the inquiry on THAT particular incident tore the RCMP a new one over their over-reaction.

            And yet, none of them will ever be disciplined over it.

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              And the relationship with Poland will never be the same as Canadian politicians blocked Polish attempts to exercise an agreement allowing independent investigation of incidents involving Polish Nationals in Canada.

              Being Canada I hope someone named some farm animals after the politicians involved.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by unhooked (21010)

              Even better, one of those fine officers drunk-drove someone to death, left the scene, drank more, came back and is still walking around free.

              • by gstoddart (321705)

                Even better, one of those fine officers drunk-drove someone to death, left the scene, drank more, came back and is still walking around free.

                Fuck.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              They have appointed a special prosecutor and it is likely that those murdering murderers that murdered Dziekanski will face criminal charges.

              Now, those charges might be perjury, which is unfair, but there are ~30 million of us who want those murdering murderers that murdered Dziekanski put into prison. I'd accept any charges that put them in jail.

        • by e2d2 (115622)

          When I just read that my heart kind of sank. Is there anything more tragic then a group of people in supposed authority harming another man? Sigh.

          • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:14PM (#32682860) Homepage

            When I just read that my heart kind of sank. Is there anything more tragic then a group of people in supposed authority harming another man? Sigh.

            Oh, lying about it. Covering it up. Denying it happened until the video surfaced. Discrediting the poor sod they killed and the guy who took the only video that proved it happened. Confiscating the video and refusing to give it back. Using Taser's BS "excited delirium" argument to say that it wasn't the Taser that killed him, but his own body. Avoiding all criminal responsibility. Still being active police officers.

            The bottom is a long way down, and the tragedy runs pretty deep on this one. They didn't even try to resolve this peacefully, they just went straight to over-use of force.

            Absolutely every aspect of that is completely appalling and fubar.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JWSmythe (446288)

        I've heard of people being arrested in the US for possession of burglary tools. Well, tools for the commission of a crime. That can simply be a hammer, screwdriver, and pry bar. The hammer and screwdriver could simply have been in a toolbox, and the "pry bar" can frequently be found as standard equipment in the vehicle with the jack, if it had hubcaps.

        These two counts caught my eye:

        Intimidation of a justice system participant by threat.
        Intimidation of a justice system partic

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Jabrwock (985861)

          These two counts caught my eye:

          Intimidation of a justice system participant by threat. Intimidation of a justice system participant by watch and beset.

          It sounds like this wasn't only involved with his other plans, but I'd guess "justice systems participant" could be law enforcement. I'm not that familiar with Canadian law, so it's just a guess. If he made direct threats of some sort, then that changes the whole ballgame.

          Claiming he will eavesdrop on the police covers both of those. He made the threat that he will do it, and he was going to eavesdrop (watch) the police.

    • Here in Canada that translates to a rusty fork, vinegar and baking soda, and not saying 'please'.

      Ya gotta be careful, those Canadian hosers are crafty. Once, a Canadian got my dead battery goin' by mixin' bird feces and spit, cause there's like acids in it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hodet (620484)
      "building devices to collect unencrypted police broadcasts and relay them through twitter".

      He's building a common police scanner? Anything of interest will be encrypted. Regular Toronto Police Service is analog though but hardly anything that can be pickup up from them will be sensitive. I suspect the explosives on hand had way more to do with it. He may be smart but that was a dumbass move.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

        "building devices to collect unencrypted police broadcasts and relay them through twitter".

        He's building a common police scanner? Anything of interest will be encrypted.

        It will be interesting what is unencrypted!

        I suspect the explosives on hand had way more to do with it. He may be smart but that was a dumbass move.

        I heard the "explosives" were a handful of gas cans (dunno whether full or not). If that is an explosive, so is almost every car.

  • It's been awhile... (Score:5, Informative)

    by falzer (224563) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:30PM (#32682202)

    It's been awhile since I got my Canadian Ham license, but I seem to remember learning that it was illegal to rebroadcast, (or talk about, publish, whatever) anything that you heard on the airwaves. I.e. cop, fire, air control, taxi, etc chatter.

    • by localman57 (1340533) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:37PM (#32682310)

      It's been awhile since I got my Canadian Ham license

      You need a license for that up there? Dang. That's harsh. Here in the US you can get Canadian Ham by just walking into a McDonalds and ordering an Egg McMuffin. Except we call it "Canadian Bacon".

      • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:43PM (#32682382) Homepage

        You need a license for that up there? Dang. That's harsh. Here in the US you can get Canadian Ham by just walking into a McDonalds and ordering an Egg McMuffin. Except we call it "Canadian Bacon".

        Actually, the stuff you buy at McDonald's is Soylent Ham. We keep the good stuff domestic. ;-)

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You need a license for that up there? Dang. That's harsh. Here in the US you can get Canadian Ham by just walking into a McDonalds and ordering an Egg McMuffin. Except we call it "Canadian Bacon".

          Actually, the stuff you buy at McDonald's is Soylent Ham. We keep the good stuff domestic. ;-)

          Do you know how our stuff tastes? It varies from person to person.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gyrogeerloose (849181)

      It's been awhile since I got my Canadian Ham license, but I seem to remember learning that it was illegal to rebroadcast, (or talk about, publish, whatever) anything that you heard on the airwaves. I.e. cop, fire, air control, taxi, etc chatter.

      Same in the U.S., but it's not specific to having a ham license, it applies to anyone with a scanner or other equipment capable of receiving public service transmissions.

      73, de KJ6BSO

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Innocent or malicious, the guy was an idiot. How would he ensure nobody with malicious intent took advantage of what he did?
    I'm glad this prick was arrested.

    • and since I'm a narcissistic American... I will.

      That was what I felt too. It's like testing the security of your house by posting an add on craigslist telling people when I'm leaving, and when I'll be back. Not really a good idea, epsecially since every 100th craigslist reader has a brain, and that one guy might be a robber who would bring a pair of cable cutters to drop the phone / power lines.

      Even if security WAS good enough, damage still occurs to the house. The "telcom integrity" gets degraded... the

  • by Revotron (1115029) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:33PM (#32682252)

    It doesn't matter if he had malicious intent or not. The police had no way of knowing for sure what his real goals were. He appeared to be gearing up to do something naughty, and they caught on and stopped him.

    All they knew was that some lone wolf out there not associated with the government was trying to crack through G20 security, for *whatever* reason.

    Oblig. car analogy: If I was arrested trying to break into someone's car, would the police let me go if I told them I was just moving it so the nice chap who owns it doesn't get towed for parking in a fire lane?

    • by epiphani (254981) <<ten.lad> <ta> <inahpipe>> on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:46PM (#32682426)

      Speaking of car analogies, this afternoon a 57 year old man was arrested for having gasoline, an axe handle, sticks, a baseball bat, and possibly a chainsaw in his car.

      link [www.cbc.ca]

      So the message can be construed as such: if you go camping and return to Toronto, you may be used as an example to justify 1.2 billion dollars of taxpayer money spent on security.

      • In Texas, you can carry rifles while you protest outside a Republican state convention where Laura Bush is speaking and no one questions you.

        Interesting contrast.

        Here are a couple [virginia.edu] of links. [chron.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jklovanc (1603149)

        Read the article
        "But quite clearly if an individual comes down into the area, is engaged in protest activity and is carrying things that could be used as a weapon, that matter's going to be investigated by the police and those items can be removed from that individual in the interests of maintaining a safe environment for everybody."

        Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/06/24/g20-security-threat-car.html#ixzz0rnuWj3Uq [www.cbc.ca]

        It was not just the items in the car; he was linked with protest activity. If that

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Cytotoxic (245301)

          I don't know about his link to protest activity. He had a john-boat tied to the roof of his car. I don't know for sure, but normally one doesn't bring a 14 foot aluminum boat to a protest rally on a downtown street.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Larryish (1215510)

          From where I am seated, the fellow is "alleged" to have been involved in "protest activity".

          What forces are at work on the source? It appears to be no more than a mainstream Canadian news outlet.

          Seems possible that the television-addicted diet-cola-addled Canadians will scoop it up with the same glee that television-addicted diet-cola-addled Americans accept the heavily weighted spins of FOX and CNN.

    • Oblig. car analogy: If I was arrested trying to break into someone's car, would the police let me go if I told them I was just moving it so the nice chap who owns it doesn't get towed for parking in a fire lane?

      The difference being that you'd definitely get convicted for that.

      If you were just looking in the window of the car to make sure the person remembered to lock the door, they'd have nothing to convict you with (though they could still arrest you).

    • Oblig. car analogy: If I was arrested trying to break into someone's car, would the police let me go if I told them I was just moving it so the nice chap who owns it doesn't get towed for parking in a fire lane?

      You're doing it wrong. Your 'car analogy' was a crime analogy, involving a car.

  • by johnlittledotorg (858326) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:36PM (#32682284) Homepage
    Listening to unencrypted public safety comms won't get you busted (in most places) but:

    "Friends say Sonne had talked about sending messages with trigger words or buying up fertilizer during the summit to test security measures."

    What a stupid thing to do but they got wind of it didn't they? I'd say he has his answer - security, at least the intelligence component of it, is pretty decent.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. I work in an office across the street from where the G20 is meeting. If you look out the window you can see the snipers all over the rooftops scanning with their binoulars. Would it be a smart idea to sneak around the window with something that could be mistaken for a rifle, just to test security? Probably not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mashiki (184564)

      About 3 weeks ago, a guy bought 1.6T of fertilizer [www.cbc.ca]. Usual stuff, people went nuts, police went nuts lookin' for the guy. They found out that it was a farmer, going on about his normal farming business. This guy however is an idiot, ever since the mid-90's purchases of fertilizer have been tracked in Canada.

  • Bizarre .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:38PM (#32682312) Homepage

    I heard about this guy on the news yesterday.

    While I don't know the details on what all is is alleged to have done -- he did set a goal to deliberately try to see if they would detect his behavior. He was planning on sending emails with words that would get him flagged by any hypothetical electronic searches they were running, and generally trying to look suspicious to see if they've noticed him. All in the name of seeing what kind of security they had in place, and how well it works.

    He may well be completely innocent, a crack-pot, or just some misguided hacker who thinks it's his job to "take on the man". But, it's kind of like trying to get the bull to chase you -- you might not like it when he does. I'm pretty sure they've made trying to identify/breach their security procedures illegal.

    The geek and hacker in me applauds such a balsy move. The pragmatist in me thinks he might have tried just a little too hard to get noticed. I mean, antagonizing an already skittish security apparatus ... not the smartest move you can make. :-P

    I'm looking to actually hearing more facts as they become available.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      But, it's kind of like trying to get the bull to chase you -- you might not like it when he does.

      On the bright side, you get to cut the bull's balls off and eat it if you win.

    • by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:54PM (#32682538)
      Kudos to this guy for answering a curiosity of mine: I've always wondered what would actually happen if I sent a bunch of e-mails with phrases like "bomb the G20 summit", "death to the capitalist swine" and "one hundred pounds of nitrated fertilizer". I guess now we know.



      ... oh shit.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by davegravy (1019182)

        Kudos to this guy for answering a curiosity of mine: I've always wondered what would actually happen if I sent a bunch of e-mails with phrases like "bomb the G20 summit", "death to the capitalist swine" and "one hundred pounds of nitrated fertilizer". I guess now we know.

        My understanding is that there's nothing illegal about your post.

        If Sonne was arrested for doing what you just did (or similar), and gets convicted, it will be a sad day for Canada.

    • I'm pretty sure they've made trying to identify/breach their security procedures illegal.

      Can they do that? If they did introduce such a law is it specific the G8/20? I didn't see it get passed.

      Also, such a law sounds very vague and could be easily abused to trample people's rights.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Can they do that? If they did introduce such a law is it specific the G8/20? I didn't see it get passed.

        Well, there's these [wikipedia.org], but that's mostly for non-citizens.

        I'm not seriously asserting there is a specific law ... but, it seems like someone always manages to dredge up some obscure law which can be construed to support such things.

        Also, such a law sounds very vague and could be easily abused to trample people's rights.

        Bingo! That seems to be SOP nowadays. Most western countries seem to have a "this is il

    • by Zerth (26112)

      Hopefully he was smart and had a big bag of seeds sitting on top of the fertilizer, if that is what he did, so he could be like "mind the sunflowers, thanks" when the cops busted his door.

      Testing security is well and good, but if you don't have an innocuous reason for tripping the system, you tend to be indistinguishable from a criminal and are likely to be convicted as such, despite protestations of "just testing".

    • by bmo (77928)

      While I don't know the details on what all is is alleged to have done -- he did set a goal to deliberately try to see if they would detect his behavior. He was planning on sending emails with words that would get him flagged by any hypothetical electronic searches they were running, and generally trying to look suspicious to see if they've noticed him. All in the name of seeing what kind of security they had in place, and how well it works.

      This is otherwise known as the Naked Man vs. Bear Gene Pool Strength

  • by nubbie (454788) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:44PM (#32682400) Homepage

    Enough said!

  • by Muondecay (1841250) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:48PM (#32682448)

    Hello sir/madame, are the owner of this establishment?

    I must say this is a fine operation you run here. However, I believe your security seems to be lacking. What's to stop an armed man, such as myself carrying these concealed sidearms, from wreaking havoc on your customers and property? Hacking your wi-fi to access and broadcast transaction data to twitter was also a cake walk. Did you honestly think I couldn't get past such simple passwords? Also, I think you could of easily prevented me from rigging your exits with explosives, made from cheap fertilizer I bought and are set to blow should anyone try to escape.

    Therefore, I would like to offer you my security consulting services. I think my demonstration speaks for itself but here are some references.

    Need to use the phone? Oh I guess its just to call my references.

    That's strange, I don't think any of them had numbers that start with 911...

    *Scene*

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:49PM (#32682454) Journal

    Test passed, I guess.

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:50PM (#32682472)

    Did he have an agreement with the G20 meeting organizers to test their security? You don't get to "test" people's security against their will.

    • Excatly this. If the cop brass didn't hire him explicitly to test their security measures then as far as the cops are concerned his self-proclaimed tests were suspicious behaviour at best and illegal at worst. The guy is an idiot for even attempting to do so. What exactly did he think was going to happen?

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:27PM (#32683054)

      Many hackers seem to have this ethos of "If I CAN do it then it is ok for me to do." If they can break in to a system, it is ok for them to do in their mind. They figure the person who owns it should have secured it better. Something tells me they would not be nearly so amused if I applied the same thing to their house. "Oh hey! Ya I've been sleeping on your couch watching TV. Well it was really your problem after all, your lock wasn't very good, I picked it easily and your alarm was defeated by just cutting the power and battery cable in it. Don't get made at ME, if you don't want me here YOU should have secured your house better!"

      I think hacker types need to remember basic kindergarten etiquette: Don't touch what isn't your without asking first. If you want to learn how to break in to computers that is wonderful, but do it on your own. Don't go and try to get in to other's stuff.

      Same shit here.

  • If he, and enough other people, did this there would be a lot of resources being tied up running down these "tests". This may allow a real threat to slip in and people be killed because all the resources are tied up. It is along the same line as to why it is illegal to call in a false fire report. The real fire across town burns while the truck is responding to the false call. Sorry but "I was just testing the response time" is not a valid excuse.
    • by bynary (827120)

      If he...did this there would be a lot of resources being tied up...

      That depends on the nature of the test. If it's just the capture and rebroadcasting of police broadcasts, there shouldn't be much if any disruption. If he's jumping turn-stiles or planting fake bombs, then sure that's a problem.

      Using that logic though, by tying up the resources necessary to arrest this guy, a real threat may have slipped by unnoticed (assuming that this guy wasn't a real threat).

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:09PM (#32682770) Journal

    Googling his name and filtering out (as best I can) the plethora of reprints of this article, it looks like the "explosives" were deliberate acquisition of ingredients to see what it would take to provoke a response. I guess he found out.

    As far as "weapons" was concerned, I don't know enough about Canadian law -- what is and is not classed as a "weapon" -- to speculate. But his linkedin says he's a licensed private investigator, and in many areas where it's otherwise impossible, a valid PI license sometimes allows a person to carry concealed. So, he could have legally owned a firearm.

    I suspect that to a certain extent this is another example of the "kitchen sink" approach to high-profile arrests, and some of these charges will be dropped in plea negotiations.

    Or, I dunno, he could really be a nut. But I don't think so. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:10PM (#32682802)

    He acts suspicious and gets caught, just as he did.

    He convinces the police it was just a "test". They laugh and go away.

    He continues and security ignores him as he is just "testing".

    He does commit a terrorist attack which get through because the police were ignoring him since that was his objective in the first place.

    Would you want to be the head of security to try to explain this?

  • by Itninja (937614) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:13PM (#32682832) Homepage
    So he wanted to test security and was caught. Sounds like his test worked great. He should be very please with himself. When he gets out he should test US government security by pulling a gun during on the POTUS during a speech.
  • by seyyah (986027) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:17PM (#32682900)

    Ever since the APEC summit in Australia, police have been extra careful about Canadians trying to sneak in: The Chaser APEC pranks [wikipedia.org].

  • by LifesABeach (234436) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:20PM (#32682964)
    How about 50 people to arrest one person because of it. I figured one RCMP [wikipedia.org] dealing with an upset Mule would be enough.
  • 50 Officers? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nuckfuts (690967) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @05:49PM (#32684280)

    Arrested by "a task force of around 50 police officers"?

    Can you picture a force of 50 officers coming to arrest one person? The need for "security" has become so overdone since 911 it's beyond ridiculous. 50 officers is not a "task force". It's a fucking ARMY. No bloody wonder that Canada has spent over a BILLION DOLLARS [theglobeandmail.com] on security for the G20 summit. What an incredible waste.

  • by SharpFang (651121) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @05:58PM (#32684434) Homepage Journal

    "You are free of all charges but marked potentially dangerous to the event. A police officer (a security expert) will accompany you at all times until after the summit, and will report all your moves. Do not avoid said officer nor try to conceal your activity from them. You are welcome to continue testing the security like you did so far, in fact we specifically request you to do so. Of course, if any of your routes appears to have a chance to succeed, we will stop you, but you will suffer no consequences. After all, what good is finding security flaws for if they are not reported to the maintainer and given a chance to be patched? So keep poking at our security, please, just don't keep us in the dark about what you find, and don't be surprised if you trigger some traps and alarms we set up."

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