Back in June of 2010
, you might recall that a security hole in AT&T's website allowed two individuals to gain access to the e-mail addresses of 114,000 owners of 3G Apple iPads, including "dozens of CEOs, military officials, and top politicians." A group calling itself Goatse Security at the time claimed responsibility for the "hack," which in addition to e-mail addresses resulted the group obtaining user ICC-IDs -- used to identify their specific iPad on the AT&T network.
One of those two individuals responsible for obtaining the data was Andrew Auernheimer (aka "Weev") an Internet-famous troll who was recently convicted of accessing a computer without authorization and identity fraud, and sentenced to serve 41 months in prison. While many may not like "Weev" for his online behavior forged in the bowels of 4chan, there has been a growing chorus of individuals who have pointed out that what he did technically wasn't criminal hacking
Goatse didn't steal passwords or hack into a server, Kerr argued. Instead, they effectively discovered a major security flaw in AT&T's network. When given the proper query, the telecom's public website would cough up a registered iPad owner's email address.
Embarrassing for AT&T? Yes. Especially because much of the revealed data belonged to important people. But was it technically hacking under the law? It doesn't appear so. Still, Motherboard points out
that the government doesn't really seem to understand or be too concerned with actually understanding what hacking is under the law, they're just sure Weev deserves the full punishment for said crime:
"He had to decrypt and decode, and do all of these things I don't even understand," Assistant US Attorney Glenn Moramarco argued. Here, on a Wednesday morning in Philadelphia, before a packed courtroom, the federal prosecution argued that a hacker should spend three and a half years in prison for committing a crime it couldn't fully comprehend.
In short, it seems the government is more interested in making an example of Weev than following the letter of the law or adhering to commonly-agreed upon word definitions. People may not like "Weev," but most people should have an interest in a fair system when it comes to computer crime.