Weev: Internet Troll or Freedom Fighter?

3 segments

Internet troll Andrew Auernheimer (aka Weev) is facing up to 10 years in federal prison for breaching AT&T's servers.  On this week's New Tech City he explains why he believes his actions helped consumers and upheld American democratic ideals. 

"I won't take a plea because I won't bow to seditious thugs who want to prevent people from exercising their First Amendment rights," Auernheimer said. "I would sooner die than kneel to tyranny." 

In November Auernheimer was convicted of stealing 120,000 email addresses of iPad 3G users and disclosing them to Gawker. He told host Manoush Zomorodi he did not steal anything.  

"AT&T didn't put this behind a door," he said. "They were publishing this on the open internet by their own admission."

Like internet activist Aaron Swartz, Auernheimer was prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a 1984 law that many legal experts and proponents of internet freedom have criticized.

In July 2011, Swartz was indicted for illegally downloading 4.8 million documents from JSTOR, a database of scholarly articles. In January, he committed suicide as his trial was set to begin this spring.  

"What I did seems a lot more saintly," Auernheimer said. 

Also on this week's episode, Alan Paller, founder of the cybersecurity training school SANS, explains why Auernheimer and other hacktivists and internet trolls are not helping anyone.  

"They are creating damage to the people that they break into and making it OK for thousands and thousands of other people to break into things," Paller said.