[Heads up: NSFW language]
On April 15, 2013, the FBI raided the home of the rapper in that video. Deric Lostutter, aka @KYAnonymous, published tweets and Instagram photos that ultimately led to the conviction of football players Trent Mays and Malik Richmond for raping and then mocking a sixteen-year old girl. Had the videos and photos not been published, Lostudder would be making rap albums and doing whatever he was doing. Instead, he's facing federal charges for computer crimes which carry a maximum term of ten years.
Lostutter, a self-employed IT security consultant and self-described Anonymous member, said on his blog that he'd just returned from a turkey hunt when he noticed what appeared to be a FedEx truck in his driveway.
"As I open the door to great [sic] the driver approximately 12 F.B.I. Swat Team agents jumped out of the truck screaming for me to 'Get The F**k Down' with m-16 assault rifles and full riot gear armed safety off, pointed directly at my head," Lostutter wrote."They seized my laptop, my girlfriend's laptop, flash drives, music CDs, an external hard-drive, two cell phones and my brother's xbox 360 for some reason," Lostutter told HuffPost.
If Lostutter were some kind of terrorist, you might expect this sort of reaction. But it's difficult to know exactly what it is he is alleged to have done. Public tweets and Instagram photos aren't something one gains by hacking, after all. They're there for all to see and if they're saved before the user deletes them, it's hardly a federal crime. They're evidence of a crime, published by the criminal as a trophy.
Angered that a small town was turning their back on justice, several hacktivist groups got involved, including Deric Lostutter, who helped post a video on the football team’s website outing the assailants and bringing national attention to their crimes.
“If convicted of hacking-related crimes, Lostutter could face up to 10 years behind bars—far more than the one- and two-year sentences doled out to the Steubenville rapists,” reports Mother Jones, in an exclusive interview with Lostutter.
The first-time digital activist claims he never hacked the page, but was the masked man in the video. His relatively light touch reportedly didn’t stop the FBI from treating him like a world-class terrorist.
This kind of overreach is why people don't trust the government. How did the FBI come to focus on Lostutter? Was it his tweets, was it his public association with Anonymous, or was it simply that they saw someone they thought they could intimidate?
Mother Jones has an exclusive interview with Lostutter:
Lostutter first got involved in Anonymous about a year ago, after watching the documentary We Are Legion. "This is me," he thought as he learned about the group's commitment to government accountability and transparency. "It was everything that I'd ever preached, and now there's this group of people getting off the couch and doing something about it. I wanted to be part of the movement."
He'd read about the Steubenville rape in the New York Times, but didn't get involved until receiving a message on Twitter from Michelle McKee, a friend of an Ohio blogger who'd written about the case. (You can read her story here.) McKee gave Lostutter the players' tweets and Instagram photos, which he then decided to publicize because, as he put it, "I was always raised to stick up for people who are getting bullied."
The FBI is trying to pin the hack of the football team's website on Lostutter. If they succeed, he will face up to ten years in federal prison. The rapists he exposed, on the other hand, will be out of their probation camp in 2014 and moving on with their lives.
Beyond the injustice of this specific case, there's a larger question about how the law enforcement community is approaching computer crimes. Even if he did deface the page of the football team -- and there's no real public evidence he did -- how on earth is that somehow a worse crime than raping a sixteen year old and then mocking her to her community and peers? Why would rapists get two years and the guy who brought attention to them get ten?
Since we're in the middle of this huge discussion about online privacy and the proper conduct of government law enforcement entities, let's also have a discussion about justice, and reasonable, proportionate consequences for actions taken online which are outside of the law.