Yesterday, Andrew “weev” Auernheimer was sentenced to 41 months in prison, three years of probation, and restitution of $73,000 after being convicted on conspiracy and fraud charges. His actions had revealed a security flaw in AT&T’s user data base.
In essence, weev added a number to the end of a URL on AT&T’s public database and realized that he was moving from one user’s information to another. He aggregated the data and gave it to Gawker, making 114,000 iPad 3G owners data public.
Before his sentencing, however, Auernheimer took the opportunity to address some members of the media with a mini ad-hoc press conference. If you’ve ever yearned to live during the American Revolution, you’ll most certainly want to watch this act of angry patriotism.
“America is in a cultural decline,” he begins. “In my country, there’s a problem and that problem is the feds. They take all your freedom and never give it back.”
He talks about all of the helpful, commercial implementations of drones, yet rebukes the government that there are no licensing routes to use this technology for peace or a healthier planet.
He explains that there are engineers “working tirelessly” in this country who try to build something useful for humanity, before finding out it’s against U.S. code.
“I look at all this, and think, ‘I’m going to prison for arithmetic?’I added one to a number on a URL on a public server, and I aggregated that data, and gave it to a fucking journalist at that man’s (points) publication!” he screamed. “And this is why I’m going to prison!”
“And if they have any soul, any soul in their whole body. If they understood what they were doing to the rule of law, to the fucking Bill of Rights and to the free and open Internet, they would die in their own goddamn shame.”
Though the “AT&T hack” wasn’t necessarily an act of “innovation,” Auernheimer most certainly sees himself as a political and cultural hacktivist. He is seen as responsible for disrupting Amazon’s web services in 2009 when the service excluded a number of gay and lesbian books, and he’s published a number of podcasts, and shown support for Occupy Wall Street as well as a number of other movements. In fact, you might even consider the AT&T hack to be a public service. Who knows when AT&T would have gotten around to protecting our data?
“I hope innovation will make a wakeful returns as soon as possible,” he said. “We don’t have much time. I think we have a short window until the currency collapses and this place becomes some third world country. There are new Detroits and Birminghams and St. Louises every year, and we have very little time to manufacture again and bring this country back to its greatness.”