AI News, My partner Lauri Love could be saving the world from cyber attacks but instead he faces a 99-year prison sentence
- On Monday, November 27, 2017
- By Sylvia Mann
My partner Lauri Love could be saving the world from cyber attacks but instead he faces a 99-year prison sentence
Lauri Love is an activist, a physicist, a computer scientist, an angel and the person I want to spend my life with.
Next week Lauri will be in court appealing against extradition to the United States where he faces a 99-year prison sentence on allegations British authorities investigated and decided not to charge him for.
Oscar Pistorius has had his sentence doubled, and that should give hope to us all Jeremy Corbyn just called out a massive Boris Johnson gaffe Ferne McCann tells acid attacker ex Arthur Collins he won't see their baby again by Taboola When you spend time with Lauri, you realise that it is much harder for him to fight against the injustices he is facing personally.
And because those US prosecutors reserve the right to try Lauri three times, in three different districts, with a potential sentence of 99 years, they know he would be under enormous pressure to accept a plea bargain.
Ninety-seven per cent of federal defendants in the United States never get a trial because they are offered a choice of either accepting years in prison if they plead guilty or risking decades to have their day in court.
All the members of hacking collective LulzSec were prosecuted here in the UK and are now pursuing very fulfilling lives contributing to society, getting PhDs, teaching and working in computer security.
(Another security researcher, Marcus Hutchins, who activated a kill-switch curtailing WannaCry’s spread, is now being prosecuted by the US, who waited until he was on holiday in Las Vegas to arrest him, seeking to avoid the “headache” of extradition.) Lauri is currently working to formalise this process as a social enterprise, Bogaty Hack, to create a volunteer reserve of people to fight the next major cyber-attack which could take lives.
- On Monday, November 27, 2017
- By Simon Parkin
Keyboard warrior: the British hacker fighting for his life
For the next five hours, while dusk turned to evening outside, Love, then 28, and his parents sat in the front room as a dozen or so men from the National Crime Agency, which investigates organised crime and other serious offences, checked the computers in the house.
Love, who was subsequently diagnosed with Asperger syndrome – a form of autism that causes him to fret and obsess – did press-ups in his cell until, in the early hours of the morning, he fell into a brief and fitful sleep.
The answer came the following day: as Love was lying facedown on his bed, he heard a Radio 4 bulletin state that the son of a Suffolk vicar had been charged for hacking into computers belonging to the US government .
This time, Love’s pursuer was not the British criminal justice system, but the US government, which accused him of helping to orchestrate and wage cyber-attacks on official websites including those belonging to the Federal Reserve, Nasa and the US army between 2012 and 2013.
He is wanted for crimes including conspiracy, fraud and identity theft in no fewer than three judicial US districts – the Southern District of New York, New Jersey, and the Eastern District of Virginia – a record unmatched by any foreign or domestic terrorist (but by at least one other hacker).
Even if Love is guilty, however, there are important legal and moral questions about whether he should be extradited to the US – a nation that has prosecuted hackers with unrivalled severity, and one where Love could be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.
If he refuses to accept a plea deal and is convicted, he will face $9m (£6.8m) in fines and, experts estimate, a prison term of up to 99 years, a punishment illustrative of the US’s aggressive sentencing against hackers under the controversial Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
“Lauri’s case is critically important in determining the reach of America’s unusually harsh punitive sanctions for computer crimes,” says Naomi Colvin, who works for the Courage Foundation, the human rights group providing Love with legal support (its other seven beneficiaries include the whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning).
Love’s defence team argues that the US prison system is unable to provide their client, who suffers from depression and bouts of untreatable eczema, with a basic level of care to meet his physical and mental health needs.
* * On the evening of Friday 25 January 2013, hackers who had broken into the website of the US Sentencing Commission, which sets guidelines for sentencing in US federal courts, took down the site’s front page and replaced it with a 10-minute YouTube video.
The video, narrated in the detuned Stephen Hawking-esque computer voice favoured by soapboxing hackers, declared a cyberwar against the US judicial system for departing from “the noble ideals in which it was born and enshrined”.
It was a digital ransom note: meet our demands for judicial reform, or we will release the password to the sensitive documents “We have not taken this action lightly, or without consideration of the possible consequences,” the authors said.
We do not forget,” along with an image of the Guy Fawkes mask.) It took the government a week to close whatever backdoors the hackers had used – the website now read, simply, “under construction” – but it had not been able to contain the embarrassment.
According to the FBI, Love was recorded chatting to other hackers about stealing credit card details, although US prosecutors have not specified who was being targeted, how the numbers would have been harvested, or whether this was connected to the website hacks.
In one exchange, he allegedly said: “You have no idea how much we can fuck with the US government if we wanted to.” By the time their video went live, the Anonymous hackers had been illegally collecting data from US government websites for several weeks.
In late 2010, Swartz entered a utility closet at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, hooked a laptop up to the university’s servers and set it to download more than 4m documents from JSTOR, a database of academic journals that had been criticised by information activists for its prohibitively high access fees.
The following year, when Love was 17, he joined Swhack!, an internet chat channel founded by Swartz as a place to discuss everything from ideas to improve the internet to poetry, philosophy, linguistics and artificial intelligence.
* * The allegations against Love came at a sensitive time for the US government, following a string of high-profile cases involving information leaks by politically motivated hackers.
(Her sentence was subsequently commuted by Barack Obama.) It was the same year that Matt DeHart, the former US Air National Guard intelligence analyst who claimed to have documents related to CIA misconduct, tried to flee the US and find asylum in Canada (he has subsequently agreed a plea deal).
“It’s standard operating procedure for this kind of hack.” The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which, put simply, prohibits unauthorised access to protected computers and networks, was first used in 1989, three years after its introduction, to indict Robert Morris Jr, son of the then-chief scientist at the NSA’s National Computer Security Center.
Morris, who was then a Cornell graduate student, was sentenced to three years’ probation and 400 hours of community service for creating and distributing the Morris worm, a piece of software that would slow down a computer to the point where it became unusable.
The law’s loose definition, its critics argue, has been stretched far beyond that which lawmakers intended, allowing the full force of criminal law to be used against petty pranksters and digital vandals – usually those who challenge power, either through the causes they espouse, or because their actions cause embarrassment to those in authority.
Tor Ekeland, the attorney who represented Auernheimer and Keys, and now represents Love, has called the act “a poorly written statute that doesn’t effectively define the main thing it seeks to prohibit”, namely the precise definition of unauthorised access.
“There are ambiguities surrounding that definition that allow prosecutors wide latitude to bring charges under theories that shock computer people in the infosec [IT security] community.” Love’s first dalliance with the hacking community came in his early teens, when he retreated online and fell in with a clandestine yet benevolent hacktivist organisation called the Cyber Army.
One of the group’s earliest targets was the Church of Scientology, whose well-documented attempts to suppress information via high-stakes legal cases typify the kind of institutionalised abuses of power that now fuel Anonymous’s activism.
I completely neglected my academic studies.” Early into the sit-in, 60 Strathclyde police officers in full riot gear and supported by a dog unit and a helicopter were called in to shunt the protesters out of the building.
Love became increasingly committed to political causes (at the time, his Twitter screen name was “Smedley Butler”, after a major-general in the US Marines famous for his 1935 book criticising US foreign policy, War Is a Racket) but the activism took a toll on his physical and mental health.
“We were certain that we were going to win, as much because of how little effort the other side put in as anything else.” Love’s defence team, by contrast, called numerous expert witnesses to build a careful case, based on legal precedent.
If it was a state court, I’d advise him to announce that he has found God, carry a bible and shout ‘Hallelujah’ – but this is a federal case, so he won’t get much sympathy.” (“I find that suggestion offensive,” Baron-Cohen tells me.) “I am going to extradite Mr Love,” said the district judge Nina Tempia in her summary.
“The working was right but she gave the wrong answer.” Following the judgment, more than 100 MPs signed a joint letter to Obama in his final month in office, asking that any criminal proceedings against Love take place in Britain.
Even if Love is guilty of all the charges against him – retributively breaking into flimsy US government servers, copying sensitive information and discussing with others what might be done with the haul – how could a life sentence fit a crime that cost not one person one cent?
The Department of Justice always starts with something draconian and the actual sentence ends up with community service or a few months wearing orange in a minimum-security prison.” But Love’s decision to fight the extradition – instead of pleading guilty in exchange for the promise of a lighter sentence in US prison – “may have taken these options off the table”, Lewis says.
“They had plans to fix this, like, a decade ago, and they just hadn’t been actioned.” In effect, the US government is likely to assess damages – perhaps up to $60m, Love claims – according to what it would cost to shore up the pre-existing security holes that Love is accused of exploiting.
In 2012, after facing widespread criticism, Theresa May – then the home secretary – withdrew a 2006 order to extradite the autistic Scottish IT worker Gary McKinnon, who was accused of hacking into nearly 100 US military and Nasa computers in 2001 and 2002.
McKinnon, who claimed he was searching for hidden evidence of UFO activity, allegedly deleted critical files from US government computers and posted a message reading “Your security is crap” on a US military website.
she referenced the case in her first speech as prime minister, saying: “I was told I couldn’t stop Gary McKinnon’s extradition, but I stood up to the American government and I stopped it.” But after blocking McKinnon’s deportation, she moved to amend UK extradition law to introduce a “forum bar”, in which judges may rule that the US is not the proper forum for a trial if the alleged criminality largely took place in Britain, or if the suspect is particularly vulnerable.
“You don’t rob someone on the basis of something that might happen.”) The university’s decision is especially painful in the knowledge that, had Love been allowed to stand trial in the UK following his initial arrest, and had he pled guilty to every charge, he would have spent a maximum of 18 months in prison.
“Leak more docs”.) After a moment of frustration, he hisses at the computer: “I will fucking stab you.” In 15 minutes’ time, he is due to speak at the inaugural Byline festival, an event designed to champion journalism, freedom of speech and diversity – “Woodstock for the Facebook generation”, as the organisers put it.
Love is not here to discuss his legal case, but the recent WannaCry hacking attack, in which organised criminals sought to hold to ransom hundreds of thousands of computers – including some belonging to the NHS – in more than 150 countries.
The practice under international law is that the accused should face trial in the country where they committed the crime.” Todner, who successfully fought McKinnon’s extradition, disagrees, stating simply: “He was in this country when any crime may have been committed.” Harnessing this generation rather than criminalising it is, Love believes, the key to defending ourselves from the gathering deluge of cybercrime.
The argument for countries to find a way, where possible, to enlist hackers rather than prosecute them is a persuasive one, especially when governments lack funding to fight cybercrime as well as knowledge about where best to deploy their limited funds.
History repeats itself as Lauri Love fights extradition to the United States
Two-day hearing expected to be first major test of the post-McKinnon forum bar Image by technomageindustries.co.uk Electrical engineering student Lauri Love is challenging three extradition requests from the United States at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today, in London.
Love, who has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, is facing potential extradition to the United States for his alleged involvement in #OpLastResort, the series of online protests that followed the persecution and untimely death of Reddit and Creative Commons co-creater Aaron Swartz, who was driven to suicide at the age of 26.
The two-day hearing is expected to form the first substantive test of the forum bar, introduced into law in 2013 in the wake of the Gary McKinnon case in order to protect vulnerable British defendants from being extradited when, “in the interests of justice”, their cases could be heard at home instead.
have no doubt that Lauri Love would suffer the same grave mistreatment that has been perpetrated against Jeremy Hammond and other politically motivated prisoners during their incarceration in the United States prison system, including long stays in solitary confinement, heavy restrictions on communications with the “outside” world, and denial of participation in prison activities meant to educate prisoners and give them greater opportunities once they have completed their prison sentence.
From our understanding of the likely detention conditions in the US in this case, we believe there would be a lack of support and practices, such as solitary confinement, that would cause anxiety and distress for an autistic person, particularly in light of their susceptibility to mental health difficulties.
- On Monday, November 27, 2017
- By Bethany Horne
British student fights extradition to US for allegedly hacking the FBI and Nasa
Photograph: Hannah Tait/Lauri Love This article is 2 years old Bethany Horne Tuesday 13 October 2015 14.14 BST Last modified on Wednesday 20 September 2017 On any given sunny day during this past summer, Lauri Love could be found playing music in Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds, inside the ruins of an 11th century abbey.
The US alleges Love is a “sophisticated computer hacker” loosely affiliated with the Anonymous hacker collective, and that he “secretly infiltrated” computer systems used by a long list of government agencies including the Federal Reserve, Nasa, the Department of Energy and the FBI between October 2012 and August 2013, “publicly disseminating confidential information found on those servers”.
Photograph: Jamie McFayden/Lauri Love The request for extradition describes Love as “part of a community of so called ‘hactivists’,” who seek to infiltrate the computer networks of major companies and government entities and steal confidential or protected information ...
and then publicly disclose that information in order to embarrass the company or government entity.” The US government doesn’t like being embarrassed, and in recent years has cracked down especially hard on people engaging in computer crimes to advocate for social change.
That is, investigations and prosecutions should occur in the country where offences are committed, especially if the requested person is not a citizen of the requesting country.” Love has never set foot in the United States.
One of Todner’s previous clients is alleged computer hacker Gary McKinnon, whose 10-year battle against extradition ended in 2012 when UK home secretary Theresa May blocked the extradition on humanitarian grounds.
“I am afraid that if Lauri Love is extradited to the US, he will end up like Barrett Brown and Jeremy Hammond, who are serving time for Anonymous-related convictions and are being subjected to stays in solitary whenever they attempt to speak out against their conditions - punishments that are designed to break their spirits and institutionalize their personalities,” said Michael Ratner, a lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York.
Hammond received a 10-year sentence for hacking the security firm Stratfor as part of an Anonymous campaign to disclose alleged illegal activity by the firm, but his sentence was longer than all of those of his UK-based co-defendants combined.
If I were ever taken to the USA and refused to plead guilty, that number would go up significantly, until it were many times larger than the number of years I have left to live.” He thinks the extradition case against him is being used by British law enforcement officials to pressure him into giving up evidence against himself and others.
Gary McKinnon: Why Lauri Love should be spared the nightmare of extradition
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