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Barrett Brown indicted for trafficking in credit card numbers

Brown has already been indicted for making threats on Twitter and YouTube, “most of them aimed at his longtime FBI foil, Agent Robert Smith,” noted Dallas News back in October. Now, however, a new indictment comprising 12 additional counts accuses him of trafficking “in that 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...”

The problem for Brown is that the link provided access to data stolen from Stratfor, including, “in excess of 5,000 credit card account numbers, the card holders’ identification information, and the authentication features...” and that in doing so “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.”

This indictment is causing concern among online liberty activists. Brown is not here accused of taking part in the Stratfor hack, nor attempting to make illegal use of the stolen data, nor even downloading that data, but posting a link to data that was already freely available on the internet.

The concern among activists is that this might create a precedent making it difficult for interested parties, activists and even news media to include links to source material demonstrating alleged cyber incidents such as major hacks. Journalist Ryan Gallagher tweeted, “Link Barrett accused of sharing was also posted on Cryptome + several blogs. Will these websites be indicted for ‘transferring link’ too?”

Cryptome, run by long-term activist John Young, responded, “Cryptome welcomes publication by you and others of Barrett Brown's hyperlinks...” The purpose of Cryptome, it says, is to publish what officials don’t want published. “Officials and their many obsequious cohorts like Stratfor always exceed their authority and use over-reaching indictments and illegal spying to intimidate innocent victims and defendants as well as the public by parading fantastic allegations of threats to their authority.” Cryptome, like Wikileaks, is a whistleblowing site.

But such indictments could make it difficult for people to link to sites like Cryptome or Wikileaks – nevermind Tyler. Tyler is the Anonymous-developed alternative to Wikileaks. Anonymous reportedly fell out with Wikileaks when it started aggressively asking for donations or publicity before providing access to its files. “The idea of the TYLER platform got initiated after Anonymous told the world that they will not be supporting the Wikileaks initiative anymore,” reported the Cyberwarzone website on Saturday. “TYLER has been activated,” it announced. “The platform is activated as of 8:17 AM December 7th, 2012.”

Tyler will undoubtedly be populated with the proceeds of Anonymous hacks and leaks – like the Stratfor files. Linking to its content has become more problematic since the new Brown indictment.

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