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Luminous Animal

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Current location: San Francisco
Member since: Thu Jul 24, 2003, 01:06 PM
Number of posts: 27,310

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Rolling Stone: Barrett Brown Faces 105 Years in Jail. But no one can figure out what law he broke.

Introducing America's least likely political prisoner:

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/barrett-brown-faces-105-years-in-jail-20130905

Encountering Barrett Brown's story in passing, it is tempting to group him with other Anonymous associates who have popped up in the news for cutting pleas and changing sides. Brown's case, however, is a thing apart. Although he knew some of those involved in high-profile "hacktivism," he is no hacker. His situation is closer to the runaway prosecution that destroyed Aaron Swartz, the programmer-activist who committed suicide in the face of criminal charges similar to those now being leveled at Brown. But unlike Swartz, who illegally downloaded a large cache of academic articles, Brown never broke into a server; he never even leaked a document. His primary laptop, sought in two armed FBI raids, was a miniature Sony netbook that he used for legal communication, research and an obscene amount of video-game playing. The most serious charges against him relate not to hacking or theft, but to copying and pasting a link to data that had been hacked and released by others.

"What is most concerning about Barrett's case is the disconnect between his conduct and the charged crime," says Ghappour. "He copy-pasted a publicly available link containing publicly available data that he was researching in his capacity as a journalist. The charges require twisting the relevant statutes beyond recognition and have serious implications for journalists as well as academics. Who's allowed to look at document dumps?"

Brown's case is a bellwether for press freedoms in the new century, where hacks and leaks provide some of our only glimpses into the technologies and policies of an increasingly privatized national security-and-surveillance state. What Brown did through his organization Project PM was attempt to expand these peepholes. He did this by leading group investigations into the world of private intelligence and cybersecurity contracting, a $56 billion industry that consumes 70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget.

"Barrett was an investigative journalist who was merely doing his professional duty," says Christophe Deloire of Reporters Without Borders. "The sentence that he is facing is absurd and dangerous."



Posted by Luminous Animal | Mon Dec 23, 2013, 11:34 AM (65 replies)

Snowden: A Genious Among Geniuses

http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2013/12/16/an-nsa-coworker-remembers-the-real-edward-snowden-a-genius-among-geniuses/

Months after Snowden leaked tens of thousands of the NSA’s most highly classified documents to the media, the former intelligence contractor has stayed out of the limelight, rarely granting interviews or sharing personal details. A 60 Minutes episode Sunday night, meanwhile, aired NSA’s officials descriptions of Snowden as a malicious hacker who cheated on an NSA entrance exam and whose work computers had to be destroyed after his departure for fear he had infected them with malware.

But an NSA staffer who contacted me last month and asked not to be identified–and whose claims we checked with Snowden himself via his ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner—offered me a very different, firsthand portrait of how Snowden was seen by his colleagues in the agency’s Hawaii office: A principled and ultra-competent, if somewhat eccentric employee, and one who earned the access used to pull off his leak by impressing superiors with sheer talent.

The anonymous NSA staffer’s priority in contacting me, in fact, was to refute stories that have surfaced as the NSA and the media attempt to explain how a contractor was able to obtain and leak the tens of thousands of highly classified documents that have become the biggest public disclosure of NSA secrets in history. According to the source, Snowden didn’t dupe coworkers into handing over their passwords, as one report has claimed. Nor did Snowden fabricate SSH keys to gain unauthorized access, he or she says.

Instead, there’s little mystery as to how Snowden gained his access: It was given to him.
Posted by Luminous Animal | Mon Dec 16, 2013, 09:19 AM (1 replies)
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