Journalist Barrett Brown Kickstarting Project To Engage In The Same Activities That Landed Him A Bullshit Conviction

from the good-for-him dept

It's not entirely clear what motivations lie behind Barrett Brown's Kickstarter project, but you have to imagine it has to partially be an extended middle finger to the DOJ.

Journalist Barrett Brown was tried and convicted on a handful of charges related to the act of journalism. He ended up with a 63-month sentence and a $890,000 restitution order -- some of which was tied to this activity.

[A] key part of the initial charges included the fact that Brown had organized an effort to comb through the documents that had been obtained from Stratfor via a hack. The key bit was that Brown had reposted a URL pointing to the documents to share via his "Project PM" -- a setup to crowdsource the analysis of the leaked documents. Some of those documents included credit card info, so he was charged with "trafficking" in that information.

Brown made his situation worse by threatening federal agents, but the prosecution originally stemmed from his sharing of Stratfor documents. The link-sharing charge was ultimately dropped, but the DOJ included it in the indictment, trying to turn sharing a URL into trafficking in stolen credit cards.

Compare that summation of the DOJ's prosecution with Brown's new "Pursuance Project."

Pursuance is open source software that provides a better way to organize online. It provides an integrated suite of digital tools, all designed to allow activists, researchers, journalists, artists, coders – anyone with talent and a little time – to collaborate on projects large and small, working within customized, evolvable entities called pursuances. (Think of a pursuance as a mission-oriented project/organization/group that people on the platform can join and contribute to.)

So… crowdsourcing knowledge/skillsets to engage in activism or journalism or whatever. This may include sharing access to leaked documents, much like those Brown was prosecuted for. But this won't all be out in the open. Steps will be taken to shield collaborators from those opposed to their efforts. Two-factor authentication will be baked in, along with "Tor by default." On top of that, pursuers[?] are given tools to keep The Man from surveilling their projects.

We're including a robust permissions system that allows you to invite people at various trust levels. At the minimum trust level, the person you've invited can only see and only work on the tasks you've assigned them; they can't see the rest of the task hierarchy, and they can't see who else is involved, thus limiting the possible damage done by malicious infiltrators.

This sounds very much like Brown wants to get back to the work he was doing before the federal government interrupted his life with trumped-up charges. More journalism, more collaborations, and a suite of tools to keep those who view investigative journalism as threatening locked out of the process.

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Filed Under: barrett brown, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, journalism, pursuance project

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jun 2018 @ 11:43pm

    It's the same as Apple & Co. making sure the data on our smartphones is (reasonably) safe from being accessed by malicious actors. If the government intends to be malicious, that's their own damn fault. Kudos to Brown for still standing against the bully!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    ECA (profile), 28 Jun 2018 @ 12:13pm


    Someone else supplied data..
    He was to analyze it..
    He shared it with a few others to help with the job..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Faither, 30 Jun 2018 @ 3:41am


    Does copying all the data off of your device and "into the cloud" and thus making the data accessible to malicious government acto(or/ion)s, as reasonably save?

    I always wonder about this part...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Bergman (profile), 30 Jun 2018 @ 3:49am

    Re: ??

    Exactly. If doing so without any intent to use the data for criminal activity were illegal, just about any multi-agency law enforcement taskforce would have to arrest and prosecute themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2018 @ 5:07am

    Re: Re:

    If the data is encrypted locally and the key not transmitted to the servers, I'd say it's secure enough for the average user. If you don't want to trust Apples assurances that they do just that, you can do it on your own.

    While Browns assurances are similar, one important difference gives him more credibility than Apple: the fact that the software is FOSS.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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