It’s common to imagine prisoners out in “the yard” lifting weights, playing ball, or smuggling contraband. But in the age of social media, one notable inmate is using Twitter to document his incarceration and plead for his rights.
Hacker and legendary Internet troll Andrew Auernheimer, also known as “Weev,” has revived his Twitter feed this week, posting from inside the walls of the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center, where he is currently serving out a 41-month-sentence for exposing a major security hole at AT&T and publicly shaming the company.
Activity on Auernheimer’s Twitter handle, @rabite, resumed this past Sunday with the rather matter of fact post, “I am in Brooklyn MDC and not going to be able to receive non-legal visitors, but thanks for trying.”
Since then, the hacker, who was sentenced last month after being found guilty in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, has been pretty much live-tweeting his experience behind bars, issuing nearly 70 tweets in the past five days.
Auernheimer and his partner at Goatse Security were both arrested in 2010 for stealing more than 120,000 iPad users’ email addresses, despite reports that AT&T had not properly safeguarded the information,and had actually made it publicly available online. Goatse Security worked with Gawker to post their account of exploiting the security loophole online in Summer 2010 as a way of publicly shaming AT&T.
Now it seems Auernheimer has once again found his way around the system. Though the Bureau of Prisons does not allow cell phones or internet access to inmates, Auernheimer has been able to issue his tweets through the Trust Fund Limited Internet Computer System, or TRULINCS.
Funded by inmate trust funds, TRULINCS allows direct email communication between prisoners and approved outside contacts. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke told the Daily Dot that this system would not allow Auernheimer to access Twitter directly.
“I’d say he’s probably sending these messages to someone who is posting on his behalf,” Burke said.
This is not against the rules, though, Burke said. Any messages that are sent through TRULINCS are first reviewed by prison staff, so the bureau is well aware of Auernheimer’s activities.
So far, Weev’s messages have mostly centered on defending Internet freedom and protesting his sentence.
“Every day of this upcoming 3 years is worth it to defend the rights of the Internet. I’d do it all over again. IDIFTL.,” he wrote. (IDIFTL is short for “I did it for the lulz.”)
Some of Auernheimer’s other messages have included complaints about prison conditions, claiming officials have not been accommodating his medically mandated gluten-free diet. He also seems to have realized his unique social media position.
“Am I the first person ever to livetweet my own federal criminal trial and prison term? I am surely an Internets pioneer,” he wrote.
The tweets are likely to keep coming. Burke said access to TRULINCS is only limited by the amount of free-time inmates are allowed during any given day.
Photo by Andrew Auernheimer/Twitter