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For Supposed Journalists, a Sense of Repulsed Detachment

Were you wondering what cliches, stereotypes, and distortions the elite media establishment would use when it tried to suss out the latest “hacker” arrests? Wait no longer!

For Suspected Hackers, a Sense of Social Protest (NYT)

The F.B.I.’s arrests of 14 people last week were the most ambitious crackdown yet on a loose-knit group of hackers called Anonymous…

But at least some of the suspects are not your typical hard-core hackers, judging from interviews with two of them and the online traces of others.

Whatever they base their idea of typical hard-core hackers on (Acid Burn?) we’ll never know.

Some did not bother to cover their digital tracks as they participated in what they saw as an online protest. And some say they were unaware that their feverish clicks on a home computer may have been against the law.

Ignoring the author’s futile attempt to jazz up the story with overwrought language, we see here that every statement is cloaked in pedantically skeptical reportage to the absurd point that we’re unsure if someone was truly unaware that something may have been against the law. What does that even mean?

While federal law enforcement officials are clearly keen to quash the notion that online attacks are a form of social protest…

Since this “notion” is an easily verifiable fact, it will be difficult to quash. There are many forms of social protest, even violent ones. Riots are illegal pretty much everywhere, but the fact that some of them are protests is never in dispute. If someone says their disruptive activity is a protest, it’s a protest.

Drew Phillips, a wry, serious 26-year-old programmer with a paunch that testifies to hours spent hunched over a computer…

Three years later, the word “hunch” is still required by the NYT style guide for stories about the people who make everyone else’s computers workie. Yes, the computers that almost everyone else is also sitting in front of all day long.

And maybe that is partly why one third of Americans are obese. That’s right, not just one third of programmer-Americans—but one third of regular human Americans. It must be shocking to the newshounds at the Times, whose respectable friends stay slim on a diet of Jamba Juice, pilates, and cocaine, but yes—outside their circles having a small belly is a testament that you need another KFC Double Down, not that you are an exotic “computer user”.

admits to joining one of those chat rooms when the attack was being discussed, and to tinkering with the program used in the attack. He said he could have obscured his Internet Protocol address, which can be used to identify a computer, had he thought that anyone was interested in what he was doing.

So he admits to joining a chat room! What great times we live in guys.

Mr. Phillips admits he was sympathetic to the strike against PayPal, but he maintains he did not actually participate.

Thoughtcrime, check.

Federal agents were interested in what he was doing with the Low Orbit Ion Cannon software. Mr. Phillips, who works for a solar energy company, said he used it to test the endurance of his employer’s computer systems.

He says all he did was write some code and talk about it. That is, he didn’t participate in the DDOS attacks. If he had, he would have taken the trouble to disguise his IP address, because duh. If this is true (prediction: it is), then the prosecutors have no evidence that he participated in the actual attacks. Nevertheless…

They left with all his equipment: a server he had built himself, a desktop, two laptops and several flash drives. Federal agents returned last week to arrest him, charging him with causing damage to a protected computer and a related conspiracy charge. He says wryly that he suspects the government needed to make an example out of him.

How very wry! His arrest must be such a light topic, for this “wry, serious” (?) programmer who was supposedly unaware that writing load testing software and talking about it is definitely maybe against some law.

A federal law enforcement official, who would not be named because he was not authorized to speak about an active case, argued that denial-of-service attacks like the one against PayPal were costly and illegal: “These things are costing companies millions of dollars.”

Being costly is irrelevant. Boycotts are costly, but are legal and even praiseworthy. The legality of DOS is only relevant to the extent that there is evidence this person carried out a DOS attack. None has been presented. In other words, this useless anonymously sourced paragraph seems to have been dropped into the story from a great height, with no connection to anything that came before it.

The official acknowledged that some of those arrested “used unsophisticated techniques.” But when asked if the authorities were overreacting, he said, “No, it’s never heavy-handed to address violations of law, particularly in this arena of cybersecurity, where the threat is so pervasive.”

So they admit to making an example of people! How wry.

In Jacksonville, Fla., another self-taught programmer named Keith Downey was also angered last December by PayPal’s stance toward WikiLeaks.

Teaching yourself programming—bypassing the institutions charged with dispensing such education for merely $50,000 a year or whatever—is very suspicious indeed. If people can teach themselves the most useful knowledge in the modern world, who will subsidize the education of hack reporters?

And in general, he was dismayed at what he saw as increasing government control over the Internet.

He said, she said. Who can definitively state that government is increasing its control of the internet when it has started seizing domain names, advising private companies to cut off certain accounts based on no law at all, and is plotting to grant itself the power to shutdown the internet and/or create a blacklist? Certainly not the even-keeled New York Times! They report a mishmash of subjectively qualified facts wrapped in snide cliches, you decide whether or not the guy with the paunch is a weirdo.

He logged on from home, also without bothering to use tools that would help shield his identity.

And then this dude actually did participate in the DOS, but he thinks it should be legal or he thinks it should be a minor offense.

He likened it to “the college sit-ins of the ’70s” and even to Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement against British rule. No one in the chat rooms apparently bothered to explain that Gandhi spent a lot of time in jail, as did antiwar protesters in the 1970s. Mr. Downing wasn’t prepared to be arrested last week. Nor is he financially prepared to travel across the country for his court appearance in San Jose, Calif., in September.

And no one has bothered to explain to the editors of this piece that neither Gandhi nor those legendary boomer hippies were required to travel 2,700 miles at their own expense to stand trial. That’s because it’s a new, innovative way for government to undermine the presumption of innocence, by making all sorts of loosely defined nonviolent acts into federal offenses with big numbers attached.

And is anyone really “prepared” to go to jail, and happy about it when interviewed? It’s unclear where the comparison with protesters of yore is supposed to break down, according to this stupidly aloof newspaper article. Is it that Gandhi didn’t have a paunch?

Mr. Downey, who had a small business installing and maintaining computer hardware for local music studios, lost his computer equipment during an F.B.I. raid in January. He lives with his widowed mother, who was laid off from her job earlier this year. Mr. Downey says he is patching together construction work to make ends meet.

Ah. Now it all makes sense. He had been using the equipment to support himself and his recently laid off mother, one of our country’s 9% unemployed. As he waits to stand trial, the government has seized all the tools that he needs to be productive in this economy.

And that’s what we call… WINNING THE FUTURE!

  1. coderspiel posted this

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