It was announced on Wednesday morning that Barrett Brown, a man who became a very public talking head for AnonOps (the brain trust that is arguably the cortex of the hacktivist group Anonymous, even though there technically isn’t one) is facing up to 100 years in jail for three separate indictments.
The most recent two indictments—the threatening of an FBI officer in a YouTube video and the concealing of evidence—do not seem worthy of such a harsh sentence, considering a man in Houston received only 42 months for threatening to blow up an FBI building, and a former dentist got 18 months for threatening to kill an FBI agent. The third, however, pertains to Barrett Brown’s pasting of a link in an Anonymous IRC chat room to a document full of credit card numbers and their authentication codes that was stolen from the security company Stratfor, in the midst of a hack that released over five million internal emails. Those emails were published to Wikileaks. Some writers have rightfully raised their concerns about the legalities behind sharing a link that points to stolen material (which is why I have not linked to those five million emails) and whether or not that should be an indictable offense. However, Barrett’s work and research into Stratfor tells a much more complicated and disturbing story than a pile of stolen Visa cards.
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