Free Byron Sonne.

Last week I tweeted the troubling news that a Byron Sonne, computer security professional and member of Toronto’s HackLab community, was arrested for suspicious activities. I’m grateful that Jesse Brown followed up on this story yesterday in the latest episode of my favourite Canadian podcast.

I highly recommend listening to this episode; it features an interview with Internet Strategist Jessie Hirsh, who maintans that Sonne was deliberately monitoring the security apparatus surrounding the G20 for the purpose of criticism. It may not have been the best idea, but there’s doesn’t seem to be any compelling evidence that Sonne posed any legitimate security threat. Yet Sonne remains in custody. His girlfriend, a local visual artist, was also arrested then subsequently released on bail.

I’m grateful that Search Engine is covering this story because Canadian newspapers are doing a pretty piss-poor job of it.

The Globe & Mail is showing their true colours — or at least their aging, out of touch demographic — by publishing a photo of Sonne ominously lit by the eerie blue light of his computer monitor. Because nothing says terrorist cyber-hacker like a blue screen of death.

The Toronto Star has their heart in the right place but inadvertently reveals the subtle racism that so many Canadians are guilty of. It’s all in their headline: ‘Middle-aged white guy’ doesn’t fit terrorist profile.

The National Post sticks to the facts, but at least knows how to use Google

I’m aware that the police are still processing the hundreds of innocent people would-be terrorists they arrested over the weekend. But it’s been almost a week since Mr. Sonne was hauled off, and I think the public deserves some answers.

And Byron Sonne has been detained long enough.

12 comments:

  1. AC:

    I’ve read the Sonne saga articles in the various media, including those you mentioned, as I know some IT security people and understand his motives in what he did. I waited until I heard the Search Engine podcast you mentioned before replying as I wasn’t aware of what was said on that show.

    Unfortunately, Canadian law doesn’t allow for someone to test the tools of law enforcement without risk of arrest under that law. Try to prove the security of Parliament Hill is lacking by bringing a fake gun into the visitors’ gallery and you’ll be arrested and charged, for example. Or testing the anti-shoplifting equipment at your local mall would probably mean an arrest. If Sonne can prove his intent was not sinister but a rather naive attempt to test the system, he’ll still face conviction but with a lesser penalty than someone who was trying to attack the system.

    As we saw on June 27th, the G20 security apparatus was in no mood to tolerate anything, even standing on a public sidewalk far away from any protest. Sonne’s life and reputation are in tatters after his experiment blew up in his face (and he is just one of nearly 1000 who are now in police computers as troublemakers). I have no doubt he’ll be convicted of the laws, probably by use of plea-bargains to reduce the charges.

    As many have said, the law is not the same as justice, nor is justice the same as the law. Fortunately, as with many white-hat hackers, Sonne’s notoriety may give his career a boost as a security consultant after he’s out of prison. He’ll need that boost to get his life back in order after all he’s been through and all that he will go through in the courts.

    Ed

  2. AC:

    I’ve read the Sonne saga articles in the various media, including those you mentioned, as I know some IT security people and understand his motives in what he did. I waited until I heard the Search Engine podcast you mentioned before replying as I wasn’t aware of what was said on that show.

    Unfortunately, Canadian law doesn’t allow for someone to test the tools of law enforcement without risk of arrest under that law. Try to prove the security of Parliament Hill is lacking by bringing a fake gun into the visitors’ gallery and you’ll be arrested and charged, for example. Or testing the anti-shoplifting equipment at your local mall would probably mean an arrest. If Sonne can prove his intent was not sinister but a rather naive attempt to test the system, he’ll still face conviction but with a lesser penalty than someone who was trying to attack the system.

    As we saw on June 27th, the G20 security apparatus was in no mood to tolerate anything, even standing on a public sidewalk far away from any protest. Sonne’s life and reputation are in tatters after his experiment blew up in his face (and he is just one of nearly 1000 who are now in police computers as troublemakers). I have no doubt he’ll be convicted of the laws, probably by use of plea-bargains to reduce the charges.

    As many have said, the law is not the same as justice, nor is justice the same as the law. Fortunately, as with many white-hat hackers, Sonne’s notoriety may give his career a boost as a security consultant after he’s out of prison. He’ll need that boost to get his life back in order after all he’s been through and all that he will go through in the courts.

    Ed

  3. Thanks for keeping this story open. Byron is a very long time friend & it sickens me to see how he’s being portrayed. I’m just very glad that the masses seem to be on his side & not swallowing the story that’s being fed.

    The weapon (potato gun) is something that he kept at his cottage. How that was a threat to the G-20 up there I don’t know. Explosives- Just nail polish remover & plant fertilizer. Stupid. And monitoring the security & posting on twitter? Well, my friend jokes. Unless you’re a military person with high end decryption equipment, it’s simply not gonna happen. Unless Byron figured out something way big, in which case I bet he’d be in way deeper than he is..:)

    But anyhow, for those who don’t know him, he’s a smart guy, very curious & ethical. A true hacker. He’d never hurt anyone. He’s got a great sense of humour & I just hope that he gets released sooner rather than later. Being held without bail should only be for violent criminals, not someone like Byron.

  4. Thanks for keeping this story open. Byron is a very long time friend & it sickens me to see how he’s being portrayed. I’m just very glad that the masses seem to be on his side & not swallowing the story that’s being fed.

    The weapon (potato gun) is something that he kept at his cottage. How that was a threat to the G-20 up there I don’t know. Explosives- Just nail polish remover & plant fertilizer. Stupid. And monitoring the security & posting on twitter? Well, my friend jokes. Unless you’re a military person with high end decryption equipment, it’s simply not gonna happen. Unless Byron figured out something way big, in which case I bet he’d be in way deeper than he is..:)

    But anyhow, for those who don’t know him, he’s a smart guy, very curious & ethical. A true hacker. He’d never hurt anyone. He’s got a great sense of humour & I just hope that he gets released sooner rather than later. Being held without bail should only be for violent criminals, not someone like Byron.

  5. I support the notion that this arrest and detention is illegal.Is there a defence fund set up?
    I have no doubt that things are still being monitored and will be for a long time.This is not my country.

  6. I support the notion that this arrest and detention is illegal.Is there a defence fund set up?
    I have no doubt that things are still being monitored and will be for a long time.This is not my country.

  7. I’m a bit confused about the ‘watch and beset’ charge. Has that anything at all to do with G20?

  8. I’m a bit confused about the ‘watch and beset’ charge. Has that anything at all to do with G20?

  9. The whole thing seems rather odd. I as well had a case with the G20. I was told that all cases are dropped. Does Byron really enjoy this so much that he spends years wasted in jail. It seems like thats happening. How does the lawyers on both sides let this happen. He needs a hospital not a jail as does any one else assisting the joker. I support the protesters and all like me falsely arrested. I support Byron also so understand me. The ongoing thing ruins all of us and quiets our call for change. He turns us into clowns as he and his jolly men clown. The system looks less like the joke it is.

  10. “… as does any one else assisting the joker.”

    “He turns us into clowns as he and his jolly men clown.”

    Not sure I’m understanding your vernacular here…

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