Andrew Auernheimer will spend the next three years and five months of his life in prison. The 27-year-old was sentenced today in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, after being convicted on November 20 of breaching AT&T’s servers, stealing personal information from more than 114,000 iPad users and sharing it with a reporter. He faced up to 10 years behind bars.
Auernheimer will also have to serve an additional three years of probation and pay more than $73,000 in restitution to AT&T for his actions. During the hearing, Auernheimer told U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton that he didn’t come asking for forgiveness. Instead, he said the Internet is bigger than any law can contain. What’s more, he said many governments that have tried to restrict the freedoms of the Internet have ended up toppled.
Three years ago, Auernheimer discovered a security flaw in an AT&T server that allowed his security group, Goatse Security, to infiltrate the system and steal more than 114,000 e-mail addresses belonging to iPad 3G users. The information was eventually turned over to Gawker which posted redacted versions of some of the addresses, prompting an investigation by the FBI.
Attorneys for Auernheimer argued that he should only receive probation because the wireless provider’s security was so poor that no special skill was needed to collect the addresses in question. The legal team included comments from an AT&T investigator that said Auernheimer circumvented no security.