Thursday, October 15, 2015
"The Hacker Wars": the government goes after high profile geeks for political purposes; the troubling case of Barrett Brown
“The Hacker Wars” (2014), by Vivien Lesnik Weisman, gives a detailed and lively account of the US government’s gratuitous prosecution of a few particular computer hackers (some in "Anonymous"), pursuit that indeed seems politically motivated.
Perhaps the most disturbing of all the cases presented in the film is that in Texas of Barrett Brown, now in prison, officially for threatening a law enforcement official and accessory “after the fact” – his mother also did jail time. But what got him into trouble was a single hyperlink of “classified” material from an intelligence and defense contractor named Stratfor, after another hack by Jeremy Hammond. The visitor can review the “Free Barrett Brown” site. It’s rather frightening that the government would go after someone over a single hyperlink (and the legal theory is questionable). Maybe that could happen to me. (Actually, that had been a provision of the original 1996 Communications Decency Act, a portion that would be struck down). I had covered the Barrett Brown case on my own "BillBoushka" blog (follow the Profile) Jan. 23, 2015.
Brown often looks young and attractive, and says he is such, despite the chain smoking. There are two shots of him in a bathroom mirror with a smooth chest.
Another big case was Andrew Auernheimer, “Weev”, known for founding the “trolling” organization called whimsically “Gay Nigger Association of America.” Weev had protested a reported classification by Amazon in 2009 of some gay and lesbian materials as “porn” (although I don’t recall hearing about that). Weev’s conviction would be overturned, although he would spend prison time in the “Special Housing Unit” and do a hunger strike.
There is a lot of interesting material about a photographic surveillance tool called “Trapwire”. The film also gives a nod to an excerpt about Brown from the Netflix series “House of Cards”.
There's an interesting narrative of how the FBI joined the hackers as "Antisec" and even helped (allegdly) set up the Occupy movement.
Other speakers in the film include Glenn Greenwald, Peter Drake, and Joe Fionda (“Subverzo”).
The official site is here (E-one). The film can be viewed on Netflix or on Amazon, or YouTube (it’s unclear if it’s free).