Anonymous is continuing its protest of federal computer crime law. Members claiming to be part of the hacking collective Sunday posted the names and contact information of over 4,000 banking executives to the government Web site of the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center. The file is no longer available on the government Web site, which was inaccessible as of Tuesday morning.
The file was posted to the Web site Sunday night and publicized through a Twitter account associated with an Anonymous initiative called “OpLastResort,” a report from ZDNet said. The information in the file includes professional and personal contact information for bank presidents, chief operating officers and others, and log-in information. A quick check of several of the officials’ names shows they are currently employed at the banks listed in the file, indicating that the information is fairly recent. Some of the data in the file may have come from Federal Reserve computers.
The Federal Reserve acknowledged the attack in a Tuesday statement. “The Federal Reserve system is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product. The exposure was fixed shortly after discovery. It is no longer an issue. This incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve system,” spokesman Jim Strader said.
The Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center did not respond to requests for comment.
OpLastResort was initiated by Anonymous members following the death of Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist facing federal computer crime charges who was found dead in his apartment of an apparent suicide last month. Anonymous’s choice of a release date, Feb. 4, appears to have been tied to a deadline set by House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R- Calif.), who asked the Department of Justice to provide more information on Swartz’s case. In a message posted to Twitter Monday, Issa confirmed that the Justice Department has agreed to brief the full committee on the matter.
Swartz had downloaded thousands of articles en masse from the academic database J-STOR, a move that violated the site’s terms of service and therefore constituted a felony. He later returned the articles, but faced a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines, though the prosecutor in the case has said she never intended to pursue the maximum penalty. Swartz’s family has been openly critical of the way the government handled the case, saying that the proposed penalties were far too aggressive.
On Monday, Swartz’s friends and family — along with Issa and other politicians who’ve lent their support to Internet freedom causes — gathered in his memory and to call for reforms to the nation’s computer laws.
Aaron’s partner, Taren Stinebrickner-Kaufmann told The Washington Post Tuesday that she would like to see the law Swartz was accused of breaking, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, dramatically reformed. Terms of service violations, she said, should not fall under the jurisdiction of criminal courts.
“Terms of service violations are of private contracts and should not be considered criminal offenses — especially those that require 17 pages of reading and are subject to change at any time,” she said.
She said that the “Aaron’s Law” proposal from Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) to amend the statute, which would give civil courts jurisdiction over these kinds of violations, is a good start to reforming the way the United States thinks about computer crimes. But, she added, the government should also examine the maximum sentences it sets for crimes and consider more proportional responses.
“There’s no planet on which Aaron warranted 35 years in prison,” she said.
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