Sex Offenders in Florida Now Have Warning Signs Outside Their Homes
Last week, 18 sex offenders in Bradford County, Florida, found large red signs outside their homes that read, “a convicted sexual predator… lives at this location.” The Bradford County Police Department installed the signs.
I spoke with Brad Smith, the department’s Chief of Operations (pictured above left, looking least smug), to see what this new method of community notification was all about.
VICE: What’s with the signs, Brad?
Captain Brad Smith: Florida statutes say that we must notify the public of any sex offenders in our jurisdiction. We already do that with Facebook and by going out into the area to notify people when the person first moves in, but we realized there was a possible issue with continued notification. For instance, if somebody moves in after we’ve gone around notifying people, then they’re not aware that there’s a predator there. We’re just trying to do everything we can to make the public aware. And, in a certain sense, it protects the predator from having people, especially children, approaching their residence without being duly notified.
OK… So it’s just sexual predators with child victims? Or is it all sexual predators?
It could be somebody who raped an adult or a child. In the state of Florida being a “sex offender” and a “sexual predator” are different things. A “sexual predator” is somebody who’s been convicted of a first-degree felony that’s sexual in nature or multiple second-degree felonies that are sexual in nature.
Right. Any plans to extend this to other crimes? Like murderers or serial scam-artists or whatever?
Only if the Florida statutes said that we had to. At this point in time, the only statute that’s directing the sheriff to do anything is with sexual predators.
We Spoke to Barret Brown from Prison
Since my initial piece on Barrett Brown about a month ago, there has been a small development in his case. Barrett, of course, is the journalist who is popularly mislabeled as a spokesperson for Anonymous and is facing a century of hard time in a federal prison for threatening an FBI officer, hiding evidence that obstructed his warrant, and sharing a link within an IRC chat room that contained the stolen credit card information of Stratfor customers (a security company that had 5 million of its internal emails stolen from them). While Barrett is still sitting in a federal prison waiting to see a judge, news broke last night that Barrett Brown’s mother pled guiltyto her own charge of obstructing a search warrant. She hid Barrett’s computers from the FBI and is now facing $100,000 in fines and six months of probation.
In addition, Jeremy Hammond, the hacker who is accused of actually hacking into Stratfor has been sitting in prison for 13 months without trial. His case was further delayed when it was discovered that the original judge who was appointed to try Jeremy is the wife of a man whose data was compromised by the Stratfor hack.
A couple of weeks ago, Barrett Brown called me from prison to talk to me about his case. We discussed the winding intricacies of his story in two 15-minute bursts, which was all the time the restrictions of his imprisonment would allow.
VICE: A lot of people say that you’re the spokesperson for Anonymous. What do you say to that?
Barrett Brown: I’m not. For two years now, I’ve denied that publicly. Every time I’m asked, it turns out that I’m not. The first thing people find when they google me should be a D Magazine article in which I explained that. No one is the spokesperson for Anonymous. It doesn’t work that way. I wouldn’t want that position if it were a position.
I don’t necessarily agree with everything Anonymous does. I don’t necessarily like a lot of Anons. I was very supportive of the dynamics that Anonymous represents. I’m very much an advocate (and continue to be) of these new sorts of communities to express yourself on the internet and the next move I’ll be making is deploying some communities—a little more structured than Anons’—to perpetuate themselves, and grow, while maintaining Anonymous’s core qualities. I’ve identified with Anonymous very closely for two years now, but one of the interesting things to me is how all the articles refer to me as the self-proclaimed spokesperson for Anonymous. They all copy off each other.
You did also call yourself Cobra Commander at one point.
Oh yeah, I called myself that after the NBC Nightly news called me the “underground commander in a new warfare.” Which is just a ridiculous thing to be called.
Yes, it sure is. What do you think of your 100-year sentence?
I’ve known for a long time that I was going to be incarcerated. There are several documentaries where I say that I’m going to jail at some point. You just can’t do these things and not fall on the radar of the FBI without retaliation or reprisal. I don’t want to talk to you about the case or the people involved at this point, but obviously I’m not terribly worried about it.
Why aren’t you worried?
Just because of my knowledge, I know how long they were in there monitoring our stuff… I know what documents and records of my activities are available. They’re trying to claim that I intentionally tried to spread credit card information, but I was opposed to that. And I was on record being opposed to it. They’re just not aware of that.
They don’t have their shit together in terms of going through what they spied on me regarding… and I obviously know what’s there in that evidence, so… I’ve always been opposed to spreading credit cards.
It’s not a problem of a few bad apples, as some people suggest, but instead a matter of irresponsible leadership, a pathological law enforcement culture, and a public ready and willing to sacrifice notions of justice, fairness and humanity for … what exactly?
Why Is Barrett Brown Facing 100 Years in Prison?
It was announced on Wednesday morning that Barrett Brown, a man who became a very public talking head for AnonOps (the brain trust that is arguably the cortex of the hacktivist group Anonymous, even though theretechnically isn’t one) is facing up to 100 years in jail for three separate indictments. The most recent two indictments—the threatening of an FBI officer in a YouTube video and the concealing of evidence—do not seem worthy of such a harsh sentence, considering a man in Houston recieved only 42 months for threatening to blow up an FBI building, and a former dentist got 18 months for threatening to kill an FBI agent. The third, however, pertains to Barrett Brown’s pasting of a link in an Anonymous IRC chat room to a document full of credit card numbers and their authentication codes that was stolen from the security company Stratfor, in the midst of a hack that released over five million internal emails. Those emails were published to Wikileaks. Some writers have rightfully raised their concerns about the legalities behind sharing a link that points to stolen material (which is why I have not linked to those five million emails) and whether or not that should be an indictable offense. However, Barrett’s work and research into Stratfor tells a much more complicated and disturbing story than a pile of stolen Visa cards.
Kody Maxson, Amanda Todd’s Alleged Tormenter, Has Re-Emerged Online
A screenshot from a YouTube vlogger’s interview with “k0dy” and his ex-girlfriend “Gei.”
The media attention surrounding Amanda Todd, the Canadian teenager who took her own life after being sexually extorted online, has largely died down, as most stories without a clear ending tend to do in our world of fleeting news cycles. Since her suicide in November, the RCMP has been unable to place charges against anyone in connection with her death despite their claims that they had “upwards of 20-25 full-time investigators […] working” the case. Kody Maxson, the individual who a branch of the hacktivist group Anonymous has very publicly accused of tormenting her to death, was declared a person of no interest by Canadian law enforcement. If you’ve been following my coverage of this story, you’ll know that I’ve been able to connect Kody to “kody1206,” an online alias that was heavily involved in “capping,” an internet subculture devoted to clandestinely capturing images of teen girls who strip on webcam. He was involved to such an extent that Kody was named the 2010 “Blackmailer of the Year” by a website called the Daily Capper for his blackmail of a teenage girl.
Although the mainstream media has lost interest, a few online activists have been tirelessly investigating the case in what appears to be a reaction to the total lack of action from the RCMP. One YouTube user, who goes by the name EnigmaHood, apparently managed to interview Kody Maxson over Skype. It seems that EnigmaHood was contacted by a girl who claimed to be Kody’s ex-girlfriend after he posted a series of vlogs reacting to Amanda Todd’s suicide, some of which called for Kody’s prosecution. “Gei,” the girl’s online alias, set up a Skype interview between EnigmaHood and Kody. Gei was also on the line.
r4p3-k0dy’s Skype profile.
The interviewee doesn’t use the video chat function, and I have never heard Kody Maxson’s voice, so it is impossible to confirm that the person speaking as “r4p3-k0dy” (the alias used, which translates to “rape-kody” in l33t) in this interview is the same Kody that Anonymous believes tormented Amanda Todd. That said, I believe them to be one and the same after examining a footprint of information floating around on the internet, left by r4p3-kody. Searching r4p3-kody on Google yields just four search results, all of which connect r4p3-kody and Gei. Clearly there is only one active internet user operating under such a name.
While investigating the available information that r4pe-k0dy has left online, I found a comment on a YouTube video under the username “bountyhunter176,” which reads: “Gei add my skype you know who it is, r4p3-k0dy.” The video, called “Rant on Pointless Suicide,” is a confessional where Gei harshly criticizes people who publish Amanda Todd-esque anti-bullying videos. It was uploaded eight days after Amanda Todd’s suicide and it is viewable here. In addition, I uncovered a much longer correspondence between Gei and Kody that is associated with the same Skype accounts (r4p3-k0dy and Gei) that were used in the interview with EnigmaHood. I will break down that lengthy chat log later in this article.
A screenshot from Gei’s rant about anti-bullying confessionals.
In EnigmaHood’s interview, he grills Kody relentlessly and frequently cuts back and forth between their conversation and his own asides to his internet audience, where he says that Kody needs to “go to prison where he belongs” and alleges that Gei, Kody’s supposed ex-girlfriend, told EnigmaHood that she thinks Kody is guilty.
When EnigmaHood asks for Kody’s side of the story, Kody says that he doesn’t “really” want to provide it, and that he’s “pissed off” everyone is just listening to the media. He reminds EnigmaHood that the cops do not think he’s a suspect and blames the public for jumping on the “giant bandwagon.” When asked if he knew Amanda Todd, Kody says he “knew her for a bit” and that she was “just a friend.” He then says he “never had, or wanted” pictures of Amanda Todd topless.
Later in the video, when EnigmaHood asks Kody why Anonymous would name him as Amanda’s tormenter, Kody says that he “pissed them off because of the shit [he] was doing to them through certain hacking groups online.” When I asked the branch of Anonymous who named Kody Maxson for a comment on that defense, they told me: “I really doubt he can hack, and I would say that I didn’t know who he even was before that day in October [after Amanda’s suicide] when I researched him. So, his claim that we are attacking him because he made us mad is unfounded.”
Kody also claims he is currently in Cuba, because he likes the weather and the people, which seems a bit odd considering he is up for charges in B.C. for sexual assault and sexual interference against a minor (these charges are unrelated to Amanda Todd). After missing a couple of court dates in B.C., it has been reportedthat there’s a warrant out for his arrest.
Eventually EngimaHood becomes very aggressive, telling his viewers that Kody should “suck his balls” and that he is a “piece of shit.” Unfortunately, that rant makes it pretty difficult to take the rest of the video seriously. After Kody signs out of the chat Gei tells EnigmaHood that she has “doubts in her head” about Kody’s involvement in Amanda’s death, and that Kody “just explained” that he isn’t guilty so she doesn’t need proof that he is innocent.
The whole interview is extremely strange and really doesn’t get down to the matter of anything. How did Kody know Amanda Todd? How does Kody explain his connection to the “Blackmailer of the Year” award? How is it that Kody is up on sexual assault charges in connection to a minor, and yet the RCMP quickly decided he wasn’t a person of interest in the Amanda Todd case?
Motherboard, VICE’s website about how the future is super scary but also potentially amazing, has a new look. Go check it out, starting with their great new documentary about drones.
Without further ado, then, we present Drone On, Motherboard’s nosedive into this domestic drone boom. From military weapons expos in Jordan to idyllic SoCal beaches, we caught up with some of those who are building and selling unmanned aerial vehicles all over the world, and even convinced a few companies to let us take their flying spy robots for a spin.
- by Brian Anderson
MARNI AND NATE ARE IN YOUR HOOD, PHOTOGRAPHING YOUR TWEETS
Marni Shindelman and Nate Larson are two artists who collaborate on projects centered on time and space in modern life and their relationship to social networks. Their most recent series of projects,Geolocation, involves the two chosing tweets which are tagged with location information, photographing the actual spot where the tweets were made, and then pairing the original tweets with their new images. They say the photographs “anchor and memorializes the ephemeral online data in the real world and also probe the expectations of privacy surrounding social networks.” We think the photographs are beautiful, powerful, and slightly creepy. We were so intrigued, we had to have a chat with Nate and Marni about the work.
VICE: How did this project come about?
Marni Shindelman: Nate and I were working on a project called Semaphore, in which we were translating text messages into semaphore flag language. We found one tweet on an old mashup app that had a gps coordinate on it near where we were shooting. We shot out first Geolocation photograph, “Sneaking Suspicion,” at that spot. At that moment, we knew right away we had started a much larger project. The technology caught up to us with the popularity of FourSquare and other locative games.
Nate Larson: It’s been an interesting time to think about these issues of privacy and over-sharing, especially with the way that the technology has become so common and widely affordable. We see the project as a social document, preserving fragments from this moment in history and linking the disconnected internet data back to its point of origin.