Last week a federal grand jury indicted Barrett Brown, the former self-styled spokesman of Anonymous, on 12 charges relating to the Stratfor hack spearheaded by Jeremy Hammond. One of the charges pertains to Brown sharing a link related to the Stratfor hack. It seems that when Anonymous hacked the “global intelligence” firm, they posted it to an Internet Relay Chat (IRC). From there, Brown copied and pasted the archive of compromised Stratfor data (credit card information) from that IRC channel to another. WikiLeaks has steadily published Stratfor documents in the months since as “Global Intelligence Files.”
The indictment reads:
Brown transferred the hyperlink ‘http://wikisend.com/download/597646/Stratfor_full_b.txt.gz’ from the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel called ‘#AnonOps’ to an IRC channel under Brown’s control called ‘#ProjectPM’…
[B]y transferring and posting the hyperlink, Brown caused the data to be made available to other persons online without the knowledge and authorization of Stratfor Global Intelligence and the card holders.
It’s important to note that Brown did not steal, collect or categorize any of the compromised credict card information. He did what many journalists have done in the last few years of Anonymous and WikiLeaks activity: copy and paste a link.
In essence, the government is arguing that the mere linking of hacked information for journalistic purposes should be criminalized. A great trend in democracy and the First Amendment battle, to be sure.