Journalist faces jail time for propagating cyber vigilante message

A journalist with connections to the infamous cyber vigilante group, Anonymous, has been jailed for posting links online to stolen government data.

As technology improves and expands, the number of ways to commit crimes or rebel against organisations also expands, particularly into the online world. The run up to Christmas saw the headlines taken over with reports of cyber attacks against Sony due to people disagreeing with their controversial film, The Interview.

Barrett Brown faced charges in court which carried a total number of years in prison of over 100 years. However, when sentenced, and after pleading guilty, he was given a sentence of five years.

Mr Brown, 33, is an advocate of the work that Anonymous does, and the causes it campaigns for, despite their often illicit cyber means.

He was arrested after sharing a link to data hacked from the defence intelligence firm Stratfor.

The charges against him, for which he pleaded guilty last April, included obstruction of police search, sharing classified information, and for making internet threats.

However, Mr Brown spoke out against the prosecution. “The government exposed me to decades of prison time for copying and pasting a link to a publicly available file that other journalists were also linking to without being prosecuted,” he said.

He has also been backed by media rights groups, and by Glenn Greenwald, a journalist who was involved with Edward Snowden, one of the most famous whistle blowers in the world.

Mr Brown said that he only broke the law in order to reveal details of illegal government activity.

One of the major worries regarding this case is that punishing Mr Brown is an oppression of free journalistic speech.