As some of you know I’ve recently been concerned with Surveillance State’s war on hacktivists. What does the State have against hacktivists? Well as Chris Hedges has said, the State can’t abide hacktivists because “they have the tools to expose how rotten Empire is… and it is completely rotten.” Hedges might have added that hacktivists also have the tools to *embarrass* the Surveillance State and its corporate partners. Andrew Auenheimer (a.k.a. weev) is one such hacktivist, recently sentenced to 41 months in jail for embarrassing AT&T.
More specifically weev and a friend wrote a script that harvested the email addresses of 114,000 iPad users from web pages that AT&T had left unprotected on the public Internet. Then, weev and his friend passed the email addresses on to the online magazine Gawker, presumably so as to embarrass AT&T for its shoddy security. The prosecution charged weev with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) – a law forged in 1984 that says you cannot use a computer system for reasons not intended by the owners. It seems AT&T didn’t intend for people to visit these public web pages. (This is the same law that was used to persecute Aaron Swartz and eventually drive him to suicide).
Some months ago, I published an op/ed in the New York Times Weekly Review in which I argued that weev and others like him were the gadflies of our age. Weev had a copy of the op/ed, which he rather enjoyed, but in a letter to his lawyer Tor Ekeland he reports that it has now been seized by the prison guards -- it would seem in violation of the law. I’ve decided to share the letter here because it touches on some philosophical themes. Below the fold is a text version of Weev's letter.
Getting jammed up and sent to the hole again. Funny this is happening a few days before the government drops their response to the appeal brief. Just had my shit seized by a guard, they are claiming my photo album full of news stories about my case is “contraband.” Relevant caselaw is Clement v Cal Dept. of Corrections (9th cir, 2004 if I recall correctly) in which the court determined that possessing prinouts of material from the Internet is a right of prisoners, as is receiving it in the mail.
They seized Peter Ludlow’s NYT op-ed about me, which is my favorite because it compares me to Socrates. Please send me a replacement copy. If I go to the hole, at least I have a copy of The Complete Works of Plato, courtesy of @jmscross. I am sad that my D&D game will be broken up, I do quite enjoy slaughtering my players in the Temple of Elemental Evil.
My birthday passed eleven days ago and it occurs to me that it was the sixth one in a row somehow ruined by the fraudulence and malice of the federal government. Though my belated birthday present this year is further torture and starvation in solitary confinement I will stand steadfast in fighting tyranny everywhere. Though my life and future is forfeit for daring to speak against the crony corruption of corporatist government. I consider it a worthwhile sacrifice on the alter of liberty.
“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. On thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they. How did this change come about? I do not know. What can make it legitimate?”
-Jean Jacques Rousseau ‘Du Contrat Social’
I pray you and your family are well. Keep the fires of liberty burning for us, bro.