Andrew Auernheimer is currently serving a 41-month prison sentence for identity theft and conspiracy to gain unauthorised access to AT&T public servers. The team of lawyers for Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer will appear in a US court on Wednesday to attempt to overturn a conviction they say has serious repercussions for internet freedom.
Auernheimer, is a self-confessed internet troll and hacker. He was found guilty back in November 2012 of identity theft and conspiracy to gain unauthorised access to AT&T public servers. He had obtained thousands of email addresses of iPad owners. He then shared his findings with Gawker, which then proceeded to publish them in redacted form. Auernheimer was charged with a felony under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). It is this law, which many claim to be a law that is outdated and too generalised.
Lawyers for Auernheimer say his conviction is unsound and it raises important questions for civil liberties online. At the 3rd circuit court of appeals in Philadelphia, this coming Wednesday, lawyers will argue that Auernheimer’s actions do not constitute a felony.
Under the CFAA, the government argues that his actions were without authorisation because AT&T did not want them to have the addresses. This is despite them being available on its public website.
The lawyers wrote in their legal brief; “The fundamental question in this case is whether it is a crime to visit a public website…by posting information on the public web without a password requirement, AT&T made the information available to everyone.”
Computer scientists, security researchers and Internet freedom campaigners have filed amicus brief, requesting that the appeals court to overturn his conviction. These include the Mozilla Foundation, which makes the very popular web browser, Firefox.
They argue that there are “striking similarities” between research tools used by experts to promote privacy and security and those employed by Auernheimer. They also say that they have a vital interest in arguing why individual people must be deemed authorised under the CFAA when they access unsecured data on websites.
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[Image via: gawker]