Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer Kevin J. Mahoney: The War on Cyberterror and Prosecutorial Overreach
While the current administration has announced—prematurely by most estimates—that the War on Terror has been won, it is focusing efforts on an aggressive campaign against so-called cyberterrorism. Few would dispute that cybercrimes take the form of terrorist acts in some cases, but the new war on cyberterror is achieving the dubious success of putting often minor hackers into federal penitentiaries. For downloading a few songs illegally, the Federal government will prosecute you criminally. Obtain government emails, provide them to the press, and the Federal government labels you a terrorist.
A Lack of Perspective
Certainly cybercrimes are very serious matters, and deserve to be handled accordingly. However, recent cases in which little or no harm resulted have led many of those who value minimal government intrusion to believe that a distinct lack of perspective has taken root; to wit, minor cases of hacking are being treated as major acts of terrorism.
A recent example of government overreach is the case of Andrew Auernheimer, a 24-year-old who managed to hack into a company’s emails and give them to a sensationalist news website. No bank accounts were accessed. Only a few highly edited emails were published. No one’s reputation was impugned. Only AT&T suffered any inconvenience, dedicating an hour fixing the problem.
Nevertheless, the Justice Department unleashed its agents, who kicked open the door to Auernheimer’s home, trained weapons on the occupants, and shouted for everyone inside to put up their hands. For a relatively minor cyber crime, Auernheimer was sentenced to three years behind bars.
Another notable example is that of Matthew Keys. Perhaps as retribution for being fired from a small California television station, Mr. Keys allegedly conspired to make alterations to an online article in the Los Angeles Times. He has been indicted on charges of conspiracy.
Perhaps the most blatant example of such lack of perspective, though, is the case of Cameron Dambrosio. A Massachusetts high school student, Cameron posted rap videos online in which he made reference to the White House and Boston Marathon while ranting in rhetoric not uncommon to rap. He has been charged with making terrorist threats. If convicted, he could spend 20 years behind bars.
The Government Is Everywhere
In a society where one is on camera virtually every moment he spends outside, the government is omnipresent. The Justice Department, as well, has put together a small army of prosecutors to go after cybercriminals—with an emphasis on deterrence. The purpose is, we are told, to prevent terrorist wannabes from compromising security infrastructure and stealing personal information en masse. While certainly much must be done to prevent the stealing of documents that could undermine national security, one must ask what cost we are willing to pay for such protection.
Call Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer Kevin J. Mahoney
If you are being accused of a crime, retain an experienced and accomplished criminal defense lawyer to represent you in Massachusetts courts. Call us at 617-492-0055 to schedule a free in-office consultation.
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