John Leland’s article in today’s New York Times pulls back the curtain on a years-long online harassment campaign that is certain to become a case study.
The perpetrator is a Harvard PhD whose father is a Dead Sea Scrolls scholar. To attract more support for his father’s views, he devoted years creating anonymous online identities and content – emails, blogs, articles and numerous online comments – to denigrate the reputations and findings of more prominent Dead Sea Scrolls experts.
An FBI investigation led to findings of 51 charges of identity theft, aggravated harassment, criminal impersonation and forgery. They were assisted by one of the victims of the attack. As Leland explains:
“A typical e-mail message or blog post has an Internet protocol address that identifies the computer used to create it. Using simple software that identified the I.P. addresses, he traced the e-mails and blog posts of 82 aliases to the same few computers.”
Many such cases have surfaced in recent years. They are becoming a standard part of the legal landscape.