Former Anonymous Spokesman Indicted for Linking to Stolen Data

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Barrett Brown, a former spokesman for Anonymous, was recently indicted by a federal grand jury for possessing and transmitting stolen credit card numbers in connection with the group's 2011 hack of Stratfor Global Intelligence.

"Brown acted as the public face of Anonymous during its rise to fame, but he left the group in May 2011, telling Ars, 'There's little quality control in a movement like that, which was not a huge problem when the emphasis was on assisting with North African revolutions and those who came on board thus tended to be of a certain sort. But as things like OpSony [a May 2011 hack of Sony's PlayStation Network] arise, you attract a lot of people whose interest is in fucking with video game companies,'" writes Ars Technica's Megan Geuss.

"The indictment alleges that Brown possessed at least 10 stolen credit-card numbers and card-verification values (CVVs), and also shared a link to a document that contained thousands more stolen credit-card numbers," writes TechNewsDaily's Paul Wagenseil. "He faces 45 years in prison if convicted on all counts. However, the indictment does not allege that Brown himself stole the credit-card numbers or that he profited from having them. It states that merely possessing the numbers shows 'intent to defraud.'"

"As a journalist who covers hackers and has 'transferred and posted' many links to data stolen by hackers -- in order to put them in stories about the hacks -- this indictment is frightening because it seems to criminalize linking," writes Gizmodo's Adrian Chen. "Does this mean if a hacker posts a list of stolen passwords and usernames to Pastebin, the popular document-sharing site, and I link to them in a story or tweet I could be charged with "trafficking in stolen authentication features," as Brown has been?

"Brown has been in jail since being arrested at his home in Dallas on Sept. 12 by FBI agents," writes InformationWeek's Mathew J. Schwartz. "His arrest came just hours after he posted a threatening YouTube video called 'Why I'm Going to Destroy FBI Agent Robert Smith,' in which Brown made references to the agent's children, and threatened to 'ruin' the agent's life."