Journalist Barrett Brown sentenced to 63 months in prison

Also, I think the court did verify the facts, which was not difficult - except the whole “spokesman” thing, which is just a bugaboo, not a crime. On the other hand, it’s pretty crazy to see FBI agents described above as “innocent civilians.”

Why does this case provoke such hyperbole? It’s pretty clear Brown did bad and crazy things, and just because you love freedom doesn’t make that okay. It’s also pretty clear the court is, as usual, bringing to bear far more destructive power than is necessary - and that’s not okay just because you love security.

The overlooked part is this:

Link sharing enhanced Brown’s sentencing level. “You can traffic in something publicly available,” prosecution argued.

This makes every one of us a felon.



Straightforward murder cases are probably more likely to be local matters that aren’t reported outside the country. High-profile American murder cases that we actually hear about in Europe seem to usually end either in acquittal, or in high penalties. That statistic is further skewed by the fact that much of the reporting in Europe is more about the fact that “they’re executing someone (and that’s evil)” than about the murder itself, so excessive penalties get over-reported.

That said, can you point me to a source? The lowest mandatory sentences listed on Wikipedia are ten years for first-degree murder.

Yeah, that last bit is incredibly dangerous. If there’s any area of digital rights that requires legislative reform, it would be this whole business of the administrative arm of the government criminalizing common, and harmless digital behavior.


If the government works for the people, then the people need to know what it is doing - while the rulers are still in power. Bosses need to know.

But if the rulers work for themselves or for other bosses, then their biggest need is to make sure we don’t know what’s going on. Or that we accept whatever they say as Truth, questioning them is treason/heresy. The worst possible crime, much bigger than actually hurting people.


I would not call it harmless behavior. I would call it behavior the government has no damn business regulating. I do not trust the government to be competent in being the only safeguard of information. It’s a self evident right to be able to share information that is relevant to protecting ourselves. Giant gaping holes in security that are common knowledge are things that people, beyond “special status journalists” should be allowed to talk about freely. The responsibility of disseminating harmful information is a matter of ethics that is important, but the government idiotically taking a hammer to every scary truth-teller it is not.

He did bad things. The spooks did worse things. He is going to jail. The spooks are high fiving.


From a security perspective, comparing publishing a link to giving someone a key might seem wrong, especially since there are digital keys in cryptography. But there are many similarities. For physical keys, certificates and links, someone needs to publish the design/data in order for someone to make a copy and gain access. The rest is mostly technical details.

And no, giving someone a key to something they are legally allowed to access isn’t a felony.

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