SECURITY RESEARCHER Andrew "Weev" Auernheimer has had his conviction for 'hacking' AT&T vacated on appeal and has been released from prison.
Auernheimer is a self-confessed troll, and the AT&T and Apple exposure was troll-like. The information was released by an outfit calling itself Goatse Security - do not search for Goatse on the internet - and cannot be called the product of hacking.
Auernheimer effectively mimicked an iPad, meaning that his computer, like so many other iPads, was in a position to draw information about other iPads from AT&T.
While no user information was shared, and Goatse claimed to have alerted AT&T to the issue, the firm denied this and pursued Auernheimer all the way through the courts and into a 41 month sentence that began last year. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) appealed the conviction on Auernheimer's behalf, and his supporters said that prosecutors made an example of him unfairly.
The thing I missed most in prison was Twitter. Seriously.— Andrew Auernheimer (@rabite) April 12, 2014
"The government set out to make an example of Auernheimer," said EFF staff attorney Hanni Fakhoury in a blog post announcing the filing of an appeal.
"But the only message this sends to the security research community is that if you discover a vulnerability, you could go to jail for sounding the alarm."
In its decision the appeals court said that it could only agree with the EFF's argument, and it added that it would reverse and vacate his conviction.
"Though our nation has changed in ways which it is difficult to imagine that the Framers of the Constitution could have foreseen, the rights of criminal defendants which they sought to protect in the venue provisions of the Constitution are neither outdated nor outmoded," it said.
"Just as this was true when we decided Passodelis in 1980 - after the advent of railroad, express mail, the telegraph, the telephone, the automobile, air travel, and satellite communications - it remains true in today's internet age.
"For the forgoing reasons, we will reverse the District Court's venue determination and vacate Auernheimer's conviction." µ