Three years later, after Deric Lostutter, the Anonymous-affiliated hacker helped expose the rape of an underage youth in Steubenville, Ohio; has to plead not guilty to hacking charges. After a group of high school athletes recorded and uploaded a video of themselves raping an unconscious, underage girl, Lostutter helped the girl find some justice.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in East Kentucky is pursuing legal action against Lostutter for his art in the cyber-attacks that exposed the rape. A law that was passed when Reagan was president is being brought up and used to prosecute him. This is the same way the government went after Internet Activist Aaron Swartz in 2012, who killed himself after being indicted.
Defense attorneys are saying the only reason their client is being prosecuted is to make a martyr out of someone who used free speech and media to protect himself, and expose the rape, along with aiding the advancement of a few federal attorney’s careers.
“They want to make an example out of me for exposing a cover-up,” Lostutter commented.
Lostutter was the leading member for the cyber group KnightSec. He is also known for attacking Hunter Moore, who operates revenge-porn sites; as well as the infamous Westboro Baptist Church group. Once Lostutter read about the possible rape at the Steubenville high school, he immediately went on about trying to uncover some truth for the city in Ohio.
His attack on the high school’s football team fan site is what led to his eventual prosecution. It was a necessity, Lostutter said, in order to expose the cover up by the schools administrators. He sought the help of fellow cyber warrior, Noah McHugh, or JustBatCat, to get into the sites server and dig through emails of site admins. After gaining access, emails and photos were found mentioning the “Steubenville rape crew, and they started putting the clues together. When they had all the information needed to prove the cover up, and rape happened, the publicized the all offending party information, including the students responsible, as well as the administrators who covered it up.
McHugh pled guilty last week to hacking the site. The law the Feds are using is well known in the tech industry for being severely outdated, and is only pulled out when the government has no other way to rule the way people use computers. This law is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This law criminalizes unauthorized access to protected computers. The CFAA was made to help prosecutors fight computer crime. In this day and age, it is clear that we are a long way ahead of the technology they were protecting back then. It’s seen today, as a way to deal a smashing blow to anyone who is seen to misuse their computer; no matter if it’s for the right reasons or not.
The CFAA has been used so widely, that now you could even be found in violation if you share your Netflix password with people. It was used in the 2012 case, where Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz was prosecuted for downloading academic papers and reports “illegally”. He was so afraid of sending the rest of his life in America’s harsh prison system that he ended his life at 26 years old.
Lostutter’s defense attorney, Tor Ekeland has this to say:
“There’s a mindset that you can solve these intractable problems by punishing your way out of them. It’s the same mindset that led to the failed war on drugs and filled our prisons full with people who didn’t belong there. It’s a perverse, puritanical mindset that’s been in our country for a long time, and thinks we can solve our problems with punishment.”