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.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien: Lori Drew decided to humiliate a child. November 28, 2008

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ABC Jury Convicts Mom of Lesser Charges in Online Hoax, 27 November 2008

“Lori Drew decided to humiliate a child. The only way she could harm this pretty little girl was with a computer. She chose to use a computer to hurt a little girl, and for four weeks she enjoyed it.” U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien, chief federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, during closing arguments.

MySpace: Lori Drew off the hook on conspiracy, convicted for computer fraud November 27, 2008

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New York Times, 27 November 2008

A federal jury here issued what legal experts said was the country’s first cyberbullying verdict Wednesday, convicting a Missouri woman of three misdemeanor charges of computer fraud for her involvement in creating a phony account on MySpace to trick a teenager, who later committed suicide.

The jury deadlocked on a fourth count of conspiracy against the woman, Lori Drew, 49, and the judge, George H. Wu of Federal District Court, declared a mistrial on that charge. (more)

Sarah Palin’s e-mail hacker refutes ‘hacker’ term November 15, 2008

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Straight.com, 14 November 2008

David Kernell, the 20-year-old University of Tennessee student who accessed Sarah Palin’s personal e-mail account, insists that what he did should not be considered “hacking”.

According to Wired.com, Kernell’s lawyer has filed a motion that would prevent prosecutors and witnesses from classifying what Kernell’s actions as “hacking” and from calling Kernell a “hacker”.

Apparently, the only thing that Kernell did was correctly guess Palin’s security questions by using Google searches to guide him.

All Kernell needed was Palin’s date of birth, ZIP code, and the knowledge of where she met her husband—information that’s available online for anyone to view.

After resetting Palin’s password to “popcorn”, Kernell posted the Alaskan governor’s e-mail and password on the 4chan forums—a large Internet discussion board that ranges in topics from Japanese culture to video games and sports.

Kernell’s lawyer is arguing that hacking usually involves some sort of advanced computer skills to get past security codes and that guessing a password shouldn’t be counted as such.

#@*!!! Anonymous anger rampant on Internet November 4, 2008

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CNN, 3 November 2008

There’s a whole world of people out there, and boy, are they pissed off.

On political blogs, the invective flies. Posters respond to the latest celebrity gossip with mockery or worse. Sports fans set up Web sites with names that begin with “fire,” hoping coaches, athletic directors and sportscasters lose their jobs.

And though there are any number of bloggers and commenters who attempt to keep their postings and responses on a civil level, all too often interactive Web sites descend into ad hominem attacks, insults and plain old name-calling. Indeed, there are even whole sites devoted to venting, such as justrage.com (one screed there was titled, “I don’t give a flying f***, so f*** you”) and mybiggestcomplaint.com.

This is not a world Emily Post would want to be caught in after dark.

“The Internet can be a great tool,” said Sara Black, a professor of health studies at St. Joseph’s University who takes a particular interest in online bullying. “Like any tool, it can also be misused.” (more)

“Battling Scientology” Follow-Up October 25, 2008

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The Phoenix, 24 October 2008

Depending on whom you ask, Massachusetts-based protest organizer Gregg Housh had a major victory – or a significant loss – in Boston Municipal Court this Wednesday. As reported in The Phoenix this past week in the feature “Battling Scientology,” Housh faced charges of harassment, disturbing the peace, and disturbing religious worship for his involvement with the picket group Anonymous and his actions against the Boston Church of Scientology.

According to an Anonymous press statement that circulated earlier this afternoon: “On October 22nd Boston Municipal Court dismissed the charge of criminal harassment against ‘Anonymous’ anti-Scientology activist Gregg Housh, pending an order for the two parties to not approach each other.”

Boston Church of Scientology attorney Marc LaCasse was quick to comment that Housh did not get off so easily. “Gregg Housh – under oath – admitted that the [evidence presented against him] was true. The document he signed is called ‘admission to sufficient facts.’ If it doesn’t get any clearer than that…”

Legally speaking, charges against Housh were not technically dismissed. Instead he agreed to a Continuance without a Finding (CWOF), which the Massachusetts Criminal Defense Resource Page explains as: “Under Massachusetts Criminal Laws, agreeing to a Continuance without a Finding is not the same as pleading guilty. Technically, it is an admission that “there are sufficient facts to find you guilty” of the charges. Pleading to a CWOF will happen at a pre-trial conference as part of a plea agreement, if your attorney can get the prosecutor to agree.” (For more about the legal side see this article from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly).

The good news is that all parties seem to be happy with the outcome. At least for now, it appears that Housh – who was placed on one year probation and who faces one year in prison if he enters within 100 yards of the Boston Church of Scientology on Beacon Street – avoided what promised to be a lengthy trial. On the other side, LaCasse says the outcome works for him: “My client simply wanted to be left alone.”

SCIENTOLOGY PROTESTER’S CASE CONTINUED WITHOUT FINDING October 23, 2008

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Suffolk District Attorney, 22 Oct 2008

A Boston Municipal Court judge today continued for one year the case against a Woburn man alleged to have disturbed proceedings at the Back Bay Church of Scientology earlier this year, and will dismiss the case if the defendant abides by certain conditions during that time.

Judge Thomas C. Horgan imposed a one-year continuance without a finding in the case against GREGG HOUSH (D.O.B. 10/17/76), who had been charged with disturbing an assembly of worship and disturbing the peace. If Housh stays away from the Back Bay headquarters of the Church of Scientology and its expected new headquarters in Boston’s South End, and if he does not re-offend in any other manner, those charges will be dismissed. If he does not abide by those terms, Housh’s case could be put back on track for trial.

Also in today’s proceedings, Suffolk prosecutors affirmatively moved to dismiss an additional charge of criminal harassment against Housh. After a review of the evidence, prosecutors determined they could not meet their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt on this charge and could not in good faith move forward with it. Had the case gone to trial, prosecutors would have introduced evidence and testimony to show that Housh and others entered the Church of Scientology’s Beacon Street building in a boisterous manner during a March 1 protest, disturbing the proceedings and alarming those inside. Attorney Michael Dlott represented Housh.

Teen admits to Scientology attack October 23, 2008

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Legalbrief Today, 22 Oct 2008

A teenager hacker has admitted carrying out a cyber attack that crashed Church of Scientology Web sites as part of a campaign by a mysterious underground group.

According to a report on the News24 site, Dmitriy Guzner, of New Jersey, will plead guilty to computer hacking for his role in launching a distributed denial of service attack against Scientology sites earlier this year, the Justice Department said. According to information filed in Federal Court in Los Angeles, Guzner described himself as a member of a shadowy Internet-based group known as ‘Anonymous’ that has carried out a series of protests against Scientology.

NEW JERSEY MAN CHARGED WITH ATTACKING CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY WEBSITES IN THE NAME OF ‘ANONYMOUS’ October 18, 2008

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United States Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

Thom Mrozek
Public Affairs Officer

October 17, 2008

NEW JERSEY MAN CHARGED WITH ATTACKING CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY WEBSITES IN THE NAME OF ‘ANONYMOUS’

LOS ANGELES – A New Jersey man was charged today for his role in an attack on Church of Scientology websites in January 2008 that rendered the websites unavailable.

Dmitriy Guzner, 18, of Verona, New Jersey, has agreed to plead guilty to computer hacking for his role in the distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack against the Scientology websites. A DDOS attack occurs where a large amount of malicious Internet traffic is directed at a website or a set of websites. The target websites are unable to handle the high volume of Internet traffic and therefore become unavailable to legitimate users trying to reach the sites.

According to the criminal information filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles, Guzner participated in the attack because he considered himself a member of an underground group called “Anonymous.”  “Anonymous” has led protests against the Church of Scientology at various locations across the country, and in January 2008 posted a video on YouTube which announced a new offensive against Scientology.

Once he pleads guilty, which is expected to take place in the coming weeks in federal court in New Jersey, Guzner faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force in Los Angeles. The agencies involved in the investigation were the United States Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation.

#####

Release No. 08-140 – original here: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/cac/pressroom/pr2008/140.html

‘Anonymous’ Member Unmasked, Charged With Web Attack on Scientology October 18, 2008

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Wired Blog, 17 Oct 2008

An 18-year-old New Jersey man agreed to plead guilty to federal computer hacking charges Friday for participating in a denial-of-service attack against Church of Scientology websites, as part of collective of online troublemakers known as “Anonymous.”

Dmitriy Guzner is charged with a single felony count of unauthorized impairment of a protected computer for the January distributed denial-of-service attack. He faces a likely sentence of 12 to 18 months in prison based on stipulations in his plea agreement, which also obliges him to pay $37,500 in restitution. (more)

Tennessee College Students Indicted In Palin Hacking October 11, 2008

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eCanada now

Washington (ECN) – 20-year old David Kernell has been indicted for hacking into the e-mail account of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

The U.S. Justice Department announced on Wednesday that the 20-year old has been indicted, and has since turned himself into authorities.

He is now set to appear before a U.S. judge, where he faces a $250,000 fine, as well as 5 years in prison if convicted.

The indictment states that Kernell hacked into the e-mail account of Palin back on September 16th.

He used the password reset feature to gain access to the Yahoo e-mail account.

He then posted some of the contents of the account, along with the password on an online message board.

The information was published on the site 4chan.org, according to the indictment.

The 20-year old is the son of Democratic state legislator Mike Kernell, and went by the online name rubico.

Gov. Palin’s Alleged Hacker Indicted October 8, 2008

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Washington Post, 8 October 2008

A 20-year-old student at the University of Tennessee has been indicted for breaking into one of the email accounts of Gov. Sarah Palin and then posting screenshots of personal information obtained there to a public Web-site.

David Kernell, the son of a Democratic state lawmaker, was led into a Knoxville federal court wearing handcuffs and shackles on his ankles today and was released without posting bond, according to the Associated Press.

According to the indictment, Kernell broke into the account, gov.palin@yahoo.com, by using Yahoo’s password recovery tool. After researching and correctly answering a series of personal questions from Yahoo, Kernell was allowed to reset the password. He chose ‘popcorn,’ according to the indictment.

The personal information he discovered there included the email addresses of family members, pictures of family members and Gov. Palin’s address book for her Yahoo email account. It was posted on http://www.4CHAN.org.

Learning of an investigation, Kernell “removed, altered, concealed and covered up files on his laptop computer,” the indictment says.

Trial is set for Dec. 16. He faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

Tennessee: Grand jury doesn’t indict student in Palin e-mail case September 25, 2008

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Chattanooga Times Free Press 24 September 2008

A federal grand jury in Chattanooga ended its session Tuesday without indicting a University of Tennessee student who authorities believe may have hacked into vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s personal e-mail account.

The FBI’s investigation into David Kernell’s activities, however, is ongoing, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Knoxville is overseeing the case, but U.S. Attorney Russ Dedrick declined to comment Tuesday on when, or if, another grand jury will resume hearing evidence from the FBI’s investigation.

“Grand juries can pursue investigations for many sessions,” Mr. Dedrick said.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Chattanooga confirmed Monday that the local federal grand jury would be evaluating the case Tuesday. Grand juries are responsible for hearing basic evidence in a case and then deciding whether to indict a suspect for a specific crime.

Grand jury proceedings are not open to the public, and it is not known what evidence the grand jury here might have heard Tuesday in relation to the case against Mr. Kernell.

Three students arrived at the federal courthouse on Georgia Avenue about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday to testify about Mr. Kernell, the son of state Rep. Michael Kernell, D-Memphis. The students did not provide their names and did not answer questions about the case. An attorney with them from Maryville, Tenn., declined comment, as well.

The students were allowed to leave the courthouse through the back door, where members of the public generally are not allowed.

FBI agents from Knoxville exited the front doors of the courthouse about 10 a.m., also declining to comment on any aspect of the case.

A hacker last week broke into one of the Yahoo Inc. e-mail accounts used by Alaska Gov. Palin, the running mate of presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. The McCain campaign acknowledged the act, calling it illegal and an invasion of her privacy.

The FBI began investigating Mr. Kernell over the weekend, according to the Justice Department. Investigators searched his apartment in Knoxville, but they did not file any criminal charges immediately.

Mr. Kernell, 20, is an economics major at UT. Kernell family attorney Wade V. Davies wrote in a letter Monday that “the Kernell family wants to do the right thing, and they want what is best for their son.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Oprah Dead: SICK HOAX September 20, 2008

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babble, 21 September 2008

Reports of Oprah Winfrey being found dead have swept the internet, although no reliable news organisations were being sourced. There’s a reason for that: SHE’S NOT DEAD.

According to wikinews.org, it’s part of an internet hoax that was either started by a group known as Anonymous or from a website 4chan.org. Either way, it’s sick.

O’Reilly Hacked for Comments about Palin Hack September 20, 2008

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Wired, 19 Sept 2008

A hacker claims to have cracked the web site of Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly and purloined a list of subscribers to the site, which includes their names, e-mail addresses, city and state, and the password they use for their registration to the site.

The attack was retaliation for comments that O’Reilly made on the air this week about web sites that published e-mails obtained from the Yahoo account of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, according to a press release distributed by WikiLeaks late Friday.

The hacker sent WikiLeaks a screenshot of O’Reilly’s subscriber list as proof of the deed, which WikiLeaks has posted online.

This week on his Fox show, O’Reilly slammed web sites, such as WikiLeaks and Gawker, for posting screenshots of e-mails, family photos and a list of contacts taken from Palin’s private e-mail account.

“They’re trafficking in stolen merchandise,” O’Reilly said during one of his shows, calling for their prosecution. He also referred to a site that published the screenshots as “despicable, slimy, scummy.”

In the video above, O’Reilly spoke with Amanda Carpenter, a reporter for Townhall.com who agreed with him and said that a web site that published such information was “complicit” in the hack of Palin’s e-mail account.

“They think it’s newsworthy, even though the information was absolutely, illegally obtained,” she said.

Neither O’Reilly nor Carpenter mentioned the First Amendment protection that media organizations, such as Fox News and Townhall.com, are generally afforded for publishing newsworthy information.

That segment was followed the next day by a segment with Fox News anchor, Megyn Kelly, a lawyer, who explained why the First Amendment would protect the sites. (See video below.)

O’Reilly, disagreed with her, however.

“If your grandma sends you 50 bucks for your birthday and somebody steals the letter and gives it to somebody else and they take the 50 bucks, they’re going to get charged as well as this person who stole the letter,” he said.

Kelly explained that taking stolen money and publishing news were not the same.

“That’s crazy,” he said.

“No it’s not crazy,” Kelly replied. “Because . . . what if somebody obtained a document illegally that proved some massive conspiracy among the presidential candidates and they leaked it to Fox News and we knew it was stolen. You don’t think we’d put it on the air? You’re darn right we would. And it’s not illegal.”

WikiLeaks said in its press release that it had confirmed the authenticity of the list, but didn’t mention how it did so.

Efforts by Threat Level to contact Fox News and some of the subscribers on the list to independently verify the authenticity of the list were unsuccessful.

Palin Hacker Group’s All-Time Greatest Hits September 20, 2008

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Wired, 19 Sept 2008

By Ryan Singel September 19, 2008 | 3:04:51 PMCategories: Hacks and Cracks

Anonymous isn’t so anonymous anymore.

At least not after one “member” of Anonymous, the loose confederation of online troublemakers, broke into the personal e-mail account of Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin and then posted the new password to Anonymous’ online message board.

From there, others slipped screenshots and family photos to the leak-releasing website Wikileaks, launching a maelstrom of media coverage and widespread speculation as to the e-mail hacker’s real name.

For those unfamiliar, Anonymous is a group you can’t join, except by hanging out for a long time in the internet’s most juvenile corners — usually one of the image boards where everyone posts anonymously. 4chan’s /b/ board — or random — seems to be the main hangout, though other chans and IR channels seem to serve as adjunct clubhouses as well. The hangouts have almost no rules —  though using some variation of the terms fag, nigger and jew seems mandatory in every post.

The self-identified Palin-email burglar who uses the online handle Rubico said he got the idea while hanging out at 4chan — specifically its random or /b/ board (NSFW).

After watching others on the board temporarily lock up the e-mail account by trying primitive ways to break in, Rubico decided to call on the power of Google. With a combination of answers found through searches and an educated guess, Rubico was able to reset the account’s password.

Though Fox News famously and hilariously called Anonymous “hackers on steriods,” in large part they have little skill besides knowing how to use a web proxy to mask their IP addresses.

Instead, Anonymous keyboard miscreants combine online Fight Club-like bravado, inside jokes documented only on the world’s stupidest wiki, and harassment tactics that sound funny in theory but in practice are streaked with cruelty. The point? Fun at other people’s expense — otherwise known as Lulz.

The basic repertoire? Prank phone calls, ordering pizzas to someone’s house, flooding a message board with obscene ASCII art. Advanced techniques include finding a way into someone’s MySpace account in order to send messages to their friends saying they are gay.

What are Anonymous’ greatest or worst hits?

The Epilepsy Attack — In March, a group of internet griefers flooded an epilepsy message board with flashing images that caused migraine headaches and seizures in some users. While it’s not certain whether it was properly the work of Anonymous, the assault was rumored to have started on a thread at 7chan.org — another Anonymous hang out — and much was blamed on eBaumsworld, an online site often derided by Anonymous.

The FBI is reportedly investigating what may be the first computer attack that physically harmed people.

The Scientology War — In January, Anonymous decided to take on a real target — the Church of Scientology — which its members considered to be an overly litigious cult. Soon, anonymous pranksters were ordering pizzas to Scientology offices, using denial-of-service attacks to scuttle its web servers and posting previously unseen secret Scientology documents.

They also briefly pointed denial-of-service attack tools at the wrong IP address — which happened to be a Dutch school.

The publicity drew hordes who wanted to participate, and soon many longtime Anonymous users found themselves annoyed with the new converts who thought Anonymous was a crusading organization.

The Habbo Hotel Raid – Anonymous has staged many minor incursions into other people’s online playgrounds, but one of the most storied involved a virtual world known as Habbo — a frequent target for bored Anonymous lurkers interested in ruining other people’s fun.

In 2006, hundreds of Anonymous users showed up using identically dressed avatars: a black man with an Afro in a grey suit. They blocked off the pool to other users, claiming it was infected with AIDS. They also formed swastika-like formations and flooded the site with stupid internet sayings. When users were banned, they claimed it was racist.

The Mitchell Henderson Harassment — The suicide of Mitchell Henderson, a seventh grader, stirred Anonymous, who gleefully decided that Henderson shot himself because he had lost his iPod, a fact he’d noted on his MySpace page. Anonymous grabbed onto a badly written message on an online memorial page for him, and turned the phrase “an hero” into an internet meme.

For more than a year, Anonymous kept up the fun, calling Henderson’s parents, pretending to be his ghost.

The Hal Turner Campaign – In late 2006 and early 2007, Anonymous had much fun with Hal Turner, a small-time white supremacist who ran an online radio show. Anonymous flooded one of his shows with prank calls, which then escalated in mutual internet stupidity.

Anonymous eventually flooded his site with too much traffic for his web host to handle. Turner tried suing the image boards — unsuccessfully — and finally he closed down his show after a hacker managed to unearth correspondence suggesting Turner was an FBI informant.