A group of lawyers have launched a new legal effort on behalf of convicted hacker Andrew 'Weev' Auernheimer.
Auernheimer's defence team is looking to overturn his conviction for felony violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act under allegations of misconduct.
According to the attorneys and lawyers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), federal prosecutors misused the act when they charged Auernheimer for his role in the breach of AT&T account data related to the Apple iPad.
Auernheimer and researcher Daniel Spitler were working as part of the Goatse Security group when they discovered a vulnerability in AT&T's web portal, which allowed access to a customer database. The researchers later released parts of the database that contained information on some 114,000 iPad users.
While proponents of the group said that Auernheimer and Spitler were doing users a service by uncovering and reporting the vulnerability, authorities charged the pair with computer misuse.
Spitler agreed to a plea bargain while Auernheimer fought the charges in court and was eventually sentenced to 41 months in prison.
EFF staff attorney Hanni Fakhoury said in a statement: “The government set out to make an example of Auernheimer. But the only message this sends to the security research community is that if you discover a vulnerability, you could go to jail for sounding the alarm."
An appeal in the case is not entirely unexpected. Auernheimer and his team have long said that they would be appealing the verdict and expect to have a long fight in court.
The EFF noted that the Auernheimer appeal was part of a larger effort by the digital rights community to convince lawmakers to overturn parts of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Lawmakers have sought to loosen penalties with the introduction of Aaron's Law, a bill named after Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz. Earlier this year Swartz committed suicide while awaiting trial on copyright infringement charges.
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