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The Courts AT&T United States Technology

Andrew Auernheimer Case Uncomfortably Similar To Aaron Swartz Case 400

Posted by Soulskill
from the struggling-to-find-a-reasonable-punishment dept.
TrueSatan writes "Andrew Auernheimer doesn't appear suicidal, no thanks to U.S. prosecutors, yet he has been under attack for his act of altering an API URL that revealed a set of user data and posting details of same. '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.' Auernheimer has been under investigation from that point onward, with restrictions on his freedom and ability to earn a living that are grossly disproportionate to any perceived crime. This is just as much a case of legislative overreach and the unfettered power of prosecutors as was Swartz's case."
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Andrew Auernheimer Case Uncomfortably Similar To Aaron Swartz Case

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  • by eksith (2776419) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @05:24AM (#42667387) Homepage

    Dump and humiliate instead of disclose "responsibly". That word applies to both parties; when a vulnerability is revealed "responsibly", and the end result is for the powers that be to act irresponsibly with no regard to measured response, what's the incentive to do good?

    Delicacy is over. Expect nukes.

    I'm just gonna grab the popcorn and enjoy how the restless kids will respond to the power high prosecutors expect to get massaged.

  • US Attorneys (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @05:26AM (#42667399) Homepage Journal

    Yes, US Attorneys are the most powerful, and least controlled, people in our government. Even the president has more checks and balances on his power than what these guys get away with.

    A US Attorney is trying to seize the assets of a friend of mine, who is guilty of doing nothing but leasing land to some farmers, that grew pot on it without his knowledge. He's running into debt fighting the case, but the US Attorney is going full bore anyway, since it doesn't cost *him* anything to try to make an example out of someone.

    I think we should institute loser-pays in all lawsuits involving US Attorneys. (Unless we have this already? I don't know.) There's a reason why 90%+ of all cases with them are plea bargained out - the US Attorneys have effectively unlimited resources, and can drain you dry fighting them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @05:27AM (#42667405)

    a case of a bunch of clueless pricks in the legal system extending jurisdiction to a field they have no knowledge of but feel they need to be responsible for. The fact that the people involved are not so embarrassed that they automatically resign when these acts come to light but instead defend their position also speaks volumes.

    It's as if Jen from the 'it crowd' got a law degree.

  • Re:US Attorneys (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @06:28AM (#42667625)

    There's a reason why 90%+ of all cases with them are plea bargained out - the US Attorneys have effectively unlimited resources, and can drain you dry fighting them.

    That's not true. Large corporations kick their asses every day due to the budgetary restrictions on the Justice Department. Large Banks and Investment Firms, Big Pharmaceuticals, etc. can out maneuver and spend the government. They can, and do, drag a case on for years and turn it into a war of attrition. And because everyone in the US loves a winner and abhors a loser, US Attorneys look for easy victories, as picking on David is easier to do than fight Goliath.

    As for the the large amount of plea bargains, that relates to all accused persons--not just the innocent ones. The fact of the matter is, the vast majority of folks being prosecuted are guilty of the crime they are accused of. So, if you are guilty, taking a deal for a lighter sentence in return for not costing the government huge sums of money to prosecute your case only makes sense...

  • Bought Influence (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slimdave (710334) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @06:54AM (#42667743)
    $5.3 Million in political contributions from AT&T? http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000076 [opensecrets.org]. I doubt that Andrew can match that level of purchased justice.
  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:07AM (#42667803)

    I'm just an observer (not an attorney or prosecutor), but I suggest the hypothesis that the two-tiered system is attributable to prosecutors being lazy and cowardly. The rich and powerful can take full advantage of legal tactics to draw out a trial and delay an inevitable verdict, even when they're guilty as hell. Thus, it is much costlier and more uncertain to prosecute a banker than a hacker. Prosecutors advance their careers and reputations by getting a lot of convictions. Their incentive is to go after the easy prey.

    So, the way to fix this mess is to change the incentives for prosecutors so they are motivated to pursue the most harmful crimes, not the ones that are easiest to convict. Easier said than done.

  • Just deserts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by symes (835608) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:10AM (#42667823) Journal

    As far as I know - this guy highlighted a security flaw that exposed private data to the world. This meant he knew that that data was private and should not be maliciously exploited. He then wrote an application that accessed that data maliciously. The first bit is laudable. The second bit is as stupid as it gets given that he'd just told the company this sensitive data was exposed.

  • Was AT&T prosecuted? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:10AM (#42667825) Journal

    Under EU law at least AT&T would be in trouble for violating privacy laws, they didn't protect private customer data and that is a violation.

    So what was the reason this guy who went to a reporter (not just published the list or sold it) prosecuted? And why is there no link of said reporter defending his source?

    This case could not have happened in say my own country. There have been cases were it was TRIED but the judges slapped it down hard. So... what part is missing from the story (we are reading just one side of it) or is the US really that different? I can't imagine the US has no privacy laws at all that AT&T would not have violated by making data so easely available. Can't someone bring a case against AT&T? Making this guy evidence in a far great case, possibly worth some outrageous sum in a settlement and worthy as a bargaining chip to get this case dropped?

    What is missing from this story? Because on its own it seems to make no sense. Why should AT&T risk bad publicity when a simple "don't do that again" would have buried the story years ago.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:16AM (#42667863)

    Interestingly, Auernheimer disagrees with this interpretation.

    From TFA: (the techcrunch statement)
    "Ivy league educated and wealthy, Aaron dealt with his indictment so badly because he thought he was part of a special class of people that this didn’t happen to. I am from a rundown shack in Arkansas. I spent many years thinking people from families like his [Swartz] got better treatment than me. Now I realize the truth: The beast is so monstrous it will devour us all. None will be spared."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @08:10AM (#42668181)

    Ok, let's see, I do not watch fox news, I actually don't watch American TV except for a few shows (what was it, Better off Ted, Dexter, Game of Thrones, used to watch Simpsons, Family Guy, Seinfeld, Frasier, Married with Children, Home Improvement, saddened that they didn't continue with the Firefly series).

    I liked these American shows, but news? News are just propaganda, regardless of what side they take, in fact the problem is that they only see 2 sides, there is nothing else that they understand. I sometimes watch Jon Stewart and he is funny, but he is completely wrong on economics, just like the rest of the 'liberal' media. But who wants to watch American 'news'?

    But you are saying that 80% of American voters watch Fox News, then tell me, why was Obama re-elected? Fox News is a propaganda machine, same as MSNBC and the rest of the 'left news'.

    But here is the truth about American elections: USA elections are decided by IDIOTS.

    I will tell you why that is so, because most people who consider themselves to be 'left' and most people who consider themselves to be 'right' will not switch their votes regardless of what the 'news' tells them to do. They know they will vote either Republican or Democrat and that's all, nothing else matters.

    So those are people with strong opinions or preconceived notions, this doesn't matter, what matters is that it is not those people, who decide the elections.

    In America the elections are decided by a small group of people whose opinions are swayed by the advertising that is aimed at them. Those are people without convictions, those are people without knowledge, those are people without idea on what the hell is going on.

    American elections are decided by a small number of people who have no clue, no opinion of their own, who can be swayed whichever way that convinces them the best with the most advertising.

    In America today, with the self-destructive idiotic notion that democracy is good (it's not, it's a terrible disaster, many dictators were elected quite democratically, politicians are elected democratically who actually promise to steal more freedoms and sell them to the highest bidder, but as long as the voters think they'll get something for free from that deal, they end up voting that way).

    Democracy is a disaster, democracy is a completely wrong way to go, suffrage has to be limited, and it especially has to be limited away from people who actually decide on the outcomes of American elections, the idiots who don't hold any of their own opinions, who act only to the advertising that is directed at them.

    You are saying this:

    Very few people enter into reasoned debate and bother to understand issues before voting on them. If everybody they associate is talking about death panels, then there must be death panels. - so do you agree with me that democracy is a terrible idea or not?

    After all, you are actually implicitly talking limiting suffrage, even if it only means limiting it to people who can actually demonstrate that in fact they are familiar with issues and that they have their own opinions on the matter?

    Here is what I think about Fiscal Cliff and Debt Ceiling and generally US economy [slashdot.org], do you think that a person who has no idea about such things, who gets all of his info from advertising should be allowed to vote?

  • by corbettw (214229) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `wttebroc'> on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @08:50AM (#42668479) Journal

    So publishing personally-identifying data for 114,000 people is in the security interests of society?

    Auernheimer should've gone to AT&T to report the problem. I've done that myself several times and they've always been very receptive. They might not fix the problem quickly (they're a big company and move slowly), but I've never had them sic the US Attorneys on me for it.

  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@@@project-retrograde...com> on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @12:51PM (#42671369)

    I don't know how we fix this.

    Simple. Outlaw Bribery, i.e. Outlaw Lobbyists, Campaign Contributions, Perks, Promises of Jobs after your term, etc. There should be strict punishments for that type of corruption. Then the only people who'll want to do the job of governing are the people who actually care about people, not corporate and foreign interests. Vastly reduce the amount of classified information -- There's no reason we have to make shady (illegal) deals with enemies for diplomacy, we can put forth a stance and stick by it, and be open about the times when we say, sell a bunch of weapons to warlords for intel; The public will understand if you tell them why (if not, then you shouldn't be doing it, what have they got to hide?). Get rid of the redundant agencies, e.g., we have Police and FBI, we don't need Federal Police (DHS), that's a huge tax burden and they serve no purpose that a well armed public could not. Protip: The police can't protect you, after you or your loved ones are dead then they go after the bad guys; It's the citizen's job to protect themselves. Place a 6mo to 1yr probationary period for new laws so that knee jerk reactions like ridiculous gun control regs or things like the PATRIOT Act, or SOPA can easily get tossed out. Teach civics in school along with US history, EVERY YEAR, not just one course -- If ignorance is a big problem, then education is the answer. Ditch the current voting system and have votes be a prioritized list of candidates, so if your option #1 loses, then the votes are recalculated using your option #2, then repeat for #3 and so on removing candidates until there's one winner. This way you can show support for a 3rd (or 7th) party in your #1 vote, and still use #2 as your fall-back vote. It's not rocket science we have the technology.

    Do I think ANY of that will happen? No, not at all. All of this is easier said than done, and most people are lazy and greedy; Unwilling to spend the money to change anything. Read the history books folks, nations begin with people having some degree of power & rights, then governments take those powers for themselves and reduce the citizen's rights and freedoms until shit hits the fan. Every Time. The only way to stop the cycle is to give the people back the control, and make the government accountable for their actions by the people. It seems the US is going the other direction... You can't let the government police itself! You don't put rats in charge of cheese! Rome wasn't built in a day, but it was destroyed in one, that day was September 4, 476.

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming

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