EARLIER THIS MONTH, a Brazilian judge stopped the prosecution of Glenn Greenwald under Brazil’s hacking laws. The case against Greenwald, a journalist for The Intercept, was apparently modeled on the indictment of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, under United States hacking laws. Both cases are examples of governments using hacking laws to stifle political speech—and we should expect more of the same.
The public tends to think of Assange’s case as a massive First Amendment attack under the Espionage Act, for passing on leaks from a whistleblower and former Army intelligence analyst named Chelsea Manning. Assange, however, was also charged with breaking US hacking laws for allegedly agreeing with Manning to crack a password to a government computer network. The case against Assange is flimsy—as is the one against Greenwald. Both cases are based on the same theory, first advanced by Mike Pompeo and the Justice Department, and rooted in a case known as Bartnicki.