Suspect in iPad data theft gets bail

Andrew Auernheimer 2

NEWARK (New Jersey): An Arkansas man accused of stealing more than 100,000 e-mail addresses of Apple iPad users last year has been released on bail and will be prohibited from using the Internet except for work — which in his case means a job as a computer consultant.

Andrew Auernheimer of Fayetteville left the Martin Luther King Jr Federal Building on Monday without commenting on the charges or his release from federal detention. He had been extradited from Arkansas, where he was arrested Jan 18.

Auernheimer’s US$50,000 (RM160,000) bail was covered by a friend.

He and San Francisco resident Daniel Spitler face one count each of fraud and conspiracy to access a computer without authorisation.

Authorities say the two men, both in their mid-20s, tricked AT&T’s website into divulging e-mail addresses that included those of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, film mogul Harvey Weinstein and then-White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who is now Chicago mayor.

US Attorney Paul Fishman has said there’s no evidence the addresses were disseminated for criminal purposes.

Authorities say Auernheimer and Spitler were members of a “loose association of Internet hackers” named Goatse Security that claimed last June to have discovered a weak link in AT&T’s security.

AT&T acknowledged at the time that more than 100,000 e-mail addresses of iPad users who signed up for AT&T’s 3G wireless Internet service were exposed and that it had fixed the problem.

A representative for Goatse Security told The Associated Press in June that it contacted AT&T and waited until the vulnerability was fixed before going public with the information. But federal prosecutors say AT&T was unaware of the breach until it appeared in online media reports.

In January, after the arrests, Goatse Security said in an e-mail to AP that Spitler and Auernheimer did nothing wrong and were acting in the public interest by exposing the security flaw.

Spitler was released on US$50,000 bail in January. Each of the counts he and Auernheimer face carries a five-year maximum prison sentence. — AP

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