A Federal judge in San Jose, Calif. Has opened the gates for 14 alleged members of anonymous to continue using Twitter as one of the "principle tools through which the members of the Anonymous hacking group planned and coordinated their criminal activities," according to prosecutors opposing the decision.
The question came up in January as a motion from Vincent Kershaw, indicted along with 13 other alleged Anonymi for attacking PayPal following the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Kershaw could have simply argued that preventing him from Tweeting about issues having nothing to do with his legal situation or the charges against him was a violation of his First Amendment right to free speech.
Even in court, where current events, fashions and politics are supposed to be banished from legal decisions, requests go over much more easily when they hit the issues that are big today rather than when the Constitution was written.
Barring Kershaw from Twitter, as the DoJ had gotten a judge to do wouldn't just keep him from cheering on hacker colleagues in public. It would keep him from participating in political speech leading up to the presidential election in November.
Because the case against Kershaw was "likely proceed throughout the entirety of the 2012 election cycle including the ongoing presidential campaign,” banning him from Twitter keeps him from
"even perusing such critical communications from our own President or engaging in the Twitter Town Halls in any manner."
Despite arguments that the dangerous, subversive hackers of Anonymous use the overly public Twitter to plan their misdeeds, Judge Paul Grewal ruled prosecutors hadn't sufficiently linked specific Twitter accounts to their assumption that every key-press by an Anonymous sympathizer was necessarily a felony or act of treason.
Therefore Kershaw and his fellow defendants are free to Tweet themselves or participate in Twitter Town Halls and other online events.
They're not allowed to use IRC, however, which Anonymous actually does use to plan and coordinate its various activities, not to mention gossip about each other, engage in private flame wars that break out into public doxings, swap files, swap pictures and do all the other social things people do online, especially when their physical liberty is limited.
Kershaw, a 28-year-old foreman for a Colorado landscaping company, was arrested along with 15 others for a DDOS attack the DoJ charges they participated in and which was organized by Anonymous.
He was released July 2 on a bond of $10,000 on condition he not access the Internet from any computer and that he allow a probation officer to verify he had not done so.
One other order – that Kershaw not act as an informant for the police without permission from the court – became ironic last week when the FBI arrested 25 others accused of Anonymous hacking and revealed Sabu, a leader of the lunatic-fringe Anonymous spinoff LulzSec, had been acting for months as an FBI informant.
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