Computer Genius Case Goes to Supreme Court


Computer Genius Case Goes to Supreme Court
by Susan Basko, esq.

The case of Eric Eoin Marques, the computer genius who invented Tormail and developed Freedom Hosting, an easy-to-use website hosting service for the Dark Web, is now before the Supreme Court of Ireland.  Mr. Marques faces extradition to the U.S., which is charging him with various crimes involved in being an internet service provider and hosting company on which some customers allegedly ran websites that trafficked in child abuse pornography.

If extradited to the U.S., Mr. Marques likely faces life in prison.  Therefore, Mr. Marques asked the Irish Courts to try him there.  He even offered to plead guilty.  The Irish Courts refused to try him in Ireland and gave no reasoning for the refusal.  Mr. Marques appealed this refusal to give a reason, but lost the appeal.  The Appeals Court stated that he was not entitled under law to be given a reason for the refusal.

The case has now been sent to the Irish Supreme Court, which has agreed to a stay in any extradition until after the Court either hears the case or declines to hear the case.

Charging an internet service provider with crimes based on the content  of websites owned and operated by the customers of the internet service provider is new, but not uncharted, territory for the U.S. Department of Justice.  This is akin to holding Amazon Web Services criminally responsible for the content of all websites hosted on its servers.  There has been no allegation that Mr. Marques himself ran the offensive websites.

This case stems out of the federal court in Maryland, USA.  This is the same location of the infamous Silk Road case, involving a Dark Web site that sold items for bitcoins.  In that case, some of the users of the site sold illicit drugs. The alleged Silk Road site owner, Ross Ulbricht, was held criminally responsible for the drug transactions on the site.  As it turned out, two or more of the investigators in the case, including Carl Mark Force IV, of the DEA, and Shaun Bridges of the Secret Service, were eventually charged with stealing large quantities of bitcoins from the Silk Road.  Both were charged with federal crimes and sentenced to prison terms.  The Maryland-based investigation into Freedom Hosting was in the same time frame as the Maryland-based investigation into Silk Road.  Note, the Silk Road case was eventually tried in New York, where the US DOJ claimed a parallel investigation had taken place.  The ties to New York are unclear and the main investigator present at the arrest and trial of Ross Ulbricht was Jared Der-Yeghiayan, from the Chicago office of the Department of Homeland Security.  

There are numerous parallels between the Silk Road case and the Freedom Hosting case.  Both services were started by young men with a knack for creating lucrative internet businesses.  Both services operated on the Dark Web.  Both ran minimal operations -- though the operator of Silk Road, known as DPR (Dread Pirate Roberts) had a few helpers running forums and such things, Eric Eoin Marques ran Tormail and Freedom Hosting entirely by himself.  The Freedom Hosting website assured customers it was not a one-man operation, but it was.  Freedom Hosting also assured its customers, in writing on the site,  that their sites would not be visited or supervised by the hosting company.  The Freedom Hosting Terms Of Service had forbidden the users from using the sites for any illegal purposes.

The Freedom Hosting site offered anyone, for a small cost, the ability to start a Dark Web site with the same ease and familiarity as one might start a Google or Wordpress blog.  Tormail offered anonymous email accounts.  Both services were innovative and made the highly technical usable by the average person.  Both services have been shut down by the U.S. government.

Eric Eoin Marques is autistic, has dual U.S.- Irish citizenship, and lived with his father in Dublin until his arrest several years ago.  Mr. Marques was extremely quiet and stayed hidden in his bedroom, where he invented Tormail, founded Freedom Hosting, and ran his businesses.  He allegedly left the bedroom once each day to go out to eat at McDonald's.  If Mr. Marques is extradited to the U.S., this will impose a great hardship upon his father, who has never been to Maryland and does not know anyone there, but wishes dearly to be there for his autistic son.  The father hopes that the Irish Supreme Court will allow this matter to be handled in Ireland.   That decision is now in the hands of the Irish Supreme Court.

Illinois Cyberstalking Law


Illinois Cyberstalking Law
by Susan Basko, esq.

Illinois has laws about stalking and harassment and you can read about those here:
http://suebasko.blogspot.com/2013/10/cyberstalking-illinois.html

The following law is the Illinois Cyberstalking Law:

 (720 ILCS 5/12-7.5) 
    Sec. 12-7.5. Cyberstalking. 
    (a) A person commits cyberstalking when he or she engages in a course of conduct using electronic communication directed at a specific person, and he or she knows or should know that would cause a reasonable person to:
        (1) fear for his or her safety or the safety of a
    
third person; or
        (2) suffer other emotional distress.
    (a-3) A person commits cyberstalking when he or she, knowingly and without lawful justification, on at least 2 separate occasions, harasses another person through the use of electronic communication and: 
        (1) at any time transmits a threat of immediate or
    
future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint and the threat is directed towards that person or a family member of that person; or
        (2) places that person or a family member of that
    
person in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint; or
        (3) at any time knowingly solicits the commission of
    
an act by any person which would be a violation of this Code directed towards that person or a family member of that person.
    (a-5) A person commits cyberstalking when he or she, knowingly and without lawful justification, creates and maintains an Internet website or webpage which is accessible to one or more third parties for a period of at least 24 hours, and which contains statements harassing another person and:
        (1) which communicates a threat of immediate or
    
future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint, where the threat is directed towards that person or a family member of that person, or
        (2) which places that person or a family member of
    
that person in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint, or
        (3) which knowingly solicits the commission of an act
    
by any person which would be a violation of this Code directed towards that person or a family member of that person.
    (b) Sentence. Cyberstalking is a Class 4 felony; a second or subsequent conviction is a Class 3 felony. 
    (c) For purposes of this Section:
        (1) "Course of conduct" means 2 or more acts,
    
including but not limited to acts in which a defendant directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about, a person, engages in other non-consensual contact, or interferes with or damages a person's property or pet. The incarceration in a penal institution of a person who commits the course of conduct is not a bar to prosecution under this Section.
        (2) "Electronic communication" means any transfer of
    
signs, signals, writings, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectric, or photo-optical system. "Electronic communication" includes transmissions through an electronic device including, but not limited to, a telephone, cellular phone, computer, or pager, which communication includes, but is not limited to, e-mail, instant message, text message, or voice mail.
        (3) "Emotional distress" means significant mental
    
suffering, anxiety or alarm.
        (4) "Harass" means to engage in a knowing and willful
    
course of conduct directed at a specific person that alarms, torments, or terrorizes that person.
        (5) "Non-consensual contact" means any contact with
    
the victim that is initiated or continued without the victim's consent, including but not limited to being in the physical presence of the victim; appearing within the sight of the victim; approaching or confronting the victim in a public place or on private property; appearing at the workplace or residence of the victim; entering onto or remaining on property owned, leased, or occupied by the victim; or placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property owned, leased, or occupied by the victim.
        (6) "Reasonable person" means a person in the
    
victim's circumstances, with the victim's knowledge of the defendant and the defendant's prior acts.
        (7) "Third party" means any person other than the
    
person violating these provisions and the person or persons towards whom the violator's actions are directed.
    (d) Telecommunications carriers, commercial mobile service providers, and providers of information services, including, but not limited to, Internet service providers and hosting service providers, are not liable under this Section, except for willful and wanton misconduct, by virtue of the transmission, storage, or caching of electronic communications or messages of others or by virtue of the provision of other related telecommunications, commercial mobile services, or information services used by others in violation of this Section. 
    (e) A defendant who directed the actions of a third party to violate this Section, under the principles of accountability set forth in Article 5 of this Code, is guilty of violating this Section as if the same had been personally done by the defendant, without regard to the mental state of the third party acting at the direction of the defendant. 
(Source: P.A. 96-328, eff. 8-11-09; 96-686, eff. 1-1-10; 96-1000, eff. 7-2-10; 96-1551, eff. 7-1-11; 97-303, eff. 8-11-11; 97-311, eff. 8-11-11; 97-1109, eff. 1-1-13.)

Oakland Warehouse fire: What Caused It

Oakland Ghost Ship before the fire:
old rugs, musical instruments, lanterns,  lots of paper and wooden decorations

Oakland Warehouse Fire: What Caused It
by Susan Basko, esq.

December 3, 2016.  Last night, there was a devastating fire in the Fruitvale area of Oakland, California, U.S.A., in a warehouse that had been turned into an artist live/work space.  The artists called the space Ghost Ship.  Some called it Satya Yuga, or in Hindi,  सत्य युग, which translates into English  as "truth era."  So far, reports are that 9 people died in the fire and many more are dead in the rubble.

Our thoughts and prayers go out for the families and friends of those who died and for those who survived.  May those who died rest in peace.

The Oakland fire department has stated that the building was a maze with many alcoves built in by the artists. The building owner was recently reported or cited for building code violations. To call the Ghost Ship a "fire trap" would be putting it mildly, as seen in the photos posted below.

The photos below show several themes: Misuse of fire, fire hazards, an enormous amount of clutter, dangerous fire trap interior building divisions into small cubbyhole spaces, many lanterns and candles, no clear or easy exits.  This building was the definition of "fire trap."

If you would like to read a basic primer on Venue Safety, please see:
http://suebasko.blogspot.com/2014/02/basic-venue-safety-for-festivals.html

If you would like to donate to a fund to help the fire victims:
https://www.youcaring.com/firevictimsofoaklandfiredec232016-706684

All photos below are inside or in the outside yard at the Ghost Ship/ Satya Yuga Artist Cooperative Live / Work Space in  Oakland, California, where a terrible fire occurred on December 2, 2016, tragically killing many young adults.  All photos are used Copyright Fair Use, owner not known, dates not known, all photos obviously taken at some time before the fire on December 2, 2016, possibly weeks, months, or even years before the fire. Click on any photo to enlarge.


This undated photo appears to be the outside yard of the Oakland Ghost Ship. In it, a fire dancer uses a very high flame while standing on or near an old carpet, amid clutter and overhanging tree branches.  This is, obviously, extremely dangerous.


The photo above shows what appear to be lit candles placed amid
 an altar of antlers, skulls, arrows, and other clutter.


This photo above shows what appears to be a ritual fire burning
 on what appears to be a container on the floor.


This photo above shows an upper and lower deck built into the cluttered space.


Photo above shows unlit candles on an altar.


Photo above shows a hodgepodge of lanterns, a jukebox, clocks, chairs, wood, 
a bicycle hanging from the rafters.  This is fascinating to look at, but is quite a fire trap.


Decaying wood, what looks like an old sled, old music organs, and an array of clutter
 look like a fire could easily start and spread.


Imagine trying to find your way out to an exit during a fire.  


Copyright Fair Use on all photos for the fair use purposes of analysis and review for news.