Lauri Love, the Brit/Scot/Finn accused of hacking into multiple US government computers including those of NASA, the EPA, the US Army, the New York Federal Reserve Bank, and the US Missile Defence System, has successfully confronted the UK government, and won. As the Guardian reported:
It is alleged that Love successfully stole the personal details of more than 5,000 servicemen and servicewomen and former government employees, including “numerous” Nasa workers, in 10 separate online assaults. He faces up to 10 years in a US prison if he is found guilty, according to prosecutors, who said that he would also be liable to pay a fine of $250,000 (£154,000) or twice the gross loss from each of the two alleged offences.
His UK home was raided by the UK’s National Crime Agency, and his computers and peripheral equipment were seized. Subsequent to that he was arrested. After a prolonged lawsuit for the return of his seized property, he recently achieved partial victory. He’s been kind enough to allow us at The Cryptosphere to reprint his remarks on the occasion, first posted over at the hacker’s mecca, Github. He still faces one count of gaining unauthorised access to a US government computer, and one count of conspiracy.The FBI press release lists the charges as: conspiracy, causing damage to a protected computer, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. Those charges come from the US, but no charges have been filed on his home turf. This is a good place to remind everyone that, when the FBI raided Barrett Brown’s apartment, they seized his copy of Declaration of Independence, the document that formalized the creation of the United States of America.
I am glad that 573 days after a bunch of uninvited guests turned up and took all my nice things, they have found it in their hearts to return – for example – my mother’s computer with irreplaceable family photos, and my mobile phone, which would even be useful if they hadn’t neglected to put the SIM and memory cards back in. The return of my Raspberry Pi educational hobbyist microcomputer is also greatly appreciated, as I hadn’t even had a chance to use it before it had to be taken away from me for a year and a half, presumably on the plausible risk that it contained nuclear launch codes.
All jokes aside, the sanctity of private property and the limits of the authority of law-enforcement to deprive and interfere with the same are fundamental to the universally admired and revered heritage of the English justice system, a model emulated around the world. Now that all but six of the thirty-one items taken without permission from our home are returned – some of them even still in quite usable condition – we must wait until the hearing under the Police Property Act, where it will be decided whether arguments such as “broken, cannot interrogate” and “encrypted contents” allow the police effectively to deny the use of digital hardware and deprive individuals or organizations of their own data. Keystone-capers and yakety-sax may have characterized this investigation – and a little levity keeps us sane – but the risk is indeed grave that a precedent is set against the security of personal or organizational property and the absolute right to employ encryption to protect sensitive information against criminal intruders, be they government-sanctioned spooks or their less nefarious and ambitious counterparts in the digital underground. We have the dubious privilege of living in the period of human civilization in which information, computing, networking and civic society itself are becoming inexorably intertwined. Your data – and the data held about you – define and direct the course of your life in ways that were simply inconceivable a generation ago. Therefore, the decisions we make as a society during this integration will have repercussions for generations to come. The duty of the citizen is be prepared, if necessary, to mark out the line where the authority vested in the state ends and inviolable personal or organization autonomy is supreme.” I look forward to an amicable and cooperative unraveling of a few of the threads in this Gordian knot of technology and society with my good friends at the NCA and the facilitation of the District Judge at Ipswich Magistrate’s court, on July 6th. You are all warmly invited to attend. -Lauri Love, May 21, 2015