Last year, you may recall the trial of weev, otherwise known as Andrew Auernheimer. At stake was his scraping of thousands of e-mail addresses from AT&T’s site. Basically, AT&T allowed you to put in your iPad ID number and get back the e-mail address associated with it.
Daniel Spitler, a.k.a. “JacksonBrown,” wrote code to simply throw numbers at the site, and harvest the e-mail addresses it returned. And weev actually ran that code. The results were a list of every iPad owner’s e-mail address, including some in the White House and Congress.
(Related: Another form of trolling may be addressed)
AT&T did not secure its site properly, and Auernheimer went to jail in a terrible precedent-setting case. It didn’t help that he successfully (and infamously) trolled The New York Times in its story about trolls. This means weev is about as cuddly as a cactus, and as likable in person as a rabid honey badger.
Get him in court, and he behaves exactly as you’d expect him to behave in an unjust trial. The night before his sentencing, Auernheimer did an “ask me anything” on Reddit in which he wrote that his only regret was “being nice enough to give AT&T a chance to patch before dropping the dataset to Gawker. I won’t nearly be as nice next time.”
That bit was read in court the next day during sentencing, and things went about as you’d expect. All in all, it was a clash of wills that was never going to end with weev smiling and happy.
And even though he’s now being released because an appeals court vacated the entire case, weev still comes out of jail having been in solitary confinement for months due to his unwillingness to give up his cell phone while in prison.
weev’s release is a good thing for us all. The appeals court made a lot of noise about the fact that the trial was in New Jersey, where there was no real standing for any participant. But hidden inside the brief is a small line that fixes the travesty of justice that started this whole thing:
“We also note that in order to be guilty of accessing ‘without authorization, or in excess of authorization’ under New Jersey law, the Government needed to prove that Auernheimer or Spitler circumvented a code- or password-based barrier to access… Although we need not resolve whether Auernheimer’s conduct involved such a breach, no evidence was advanced at trial that the account slurper ever breached any password gate or other code-based barrier. The account slurper simply accessed the publicly facing portion of the login screen and scraped information that AT&T unintentionally published.”
Finally, some justice for the rest of us. At least it’s fair compensation for letting weev back into society. Now we all have to deal with him again.