from the is-it-assault-or-battery? dept.
A man accused of triggering an epileptic seizure of senior Newsweek writer Kurt Eichenwald through a tweet was arrested by the FBI on Friday morning. An FBI spokesman said the name of the suspect has not been released but confirmed that an arrest was made, Dallas News reported.
The arrest comes three months after Eichenwald said he suffered a seizure after someone sent him a video clip of a flashing strobe light in an intentional effort to trigger his epilepsy. A Twitter account called @jew_goldstein — which has since been suspended — responded to Eichenwald with a gif of flashing strobe lights and a message: "You deserve a seizure for that post." Shortly after, Eichenwald's account tweeted: "This is his wife, you caused a seizure. I have your information and have called the police to report the assault."
From the Dallas News article:
The agency announced that John Rayne Rivello, 29, of Salisbury, Md., was arrested Friday morning in Maryland on a cyberstalking charge.
[...] Eichenwald's attorney, Steven Liberman, told Newsweek that "What Mr. Rivello did with his Twitter message was no different from someone sending a bomb in the mail or sending an envelope filled with anthrax spores."
[...] According to a criminal complaint, messages sent from Rivello's Twitter account mentioned Eichenwald, saying "I know he has epilepsy," "I hope this sends him into a seizure" and "let's see if he dies."
Authorities also found an screenshot of Eichenwald's Wikipedia page on Rivello's iCloud account, the criminal complaint said, altered to list his date of death as Dec. 16, 2016. Other files on the iCloud account include a list of things that trigger epileptic seizures and a screenshot of a Dallas Observer article about Eichenwald's attempts to find the person who tweeted at him.
[...] On Friday, Eichenwald said that more than 40 people sent him strobes once they found out that they could trigger seizures.
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Newsweek journalist Kurt Eichenwald, who is known to be suffering from epilepsy, reported on twitter that someone tweeted him a seizure-inducing image. This is not the first time it happened, but this attempt was (apparently) successful in triggering a seizure.
This might be the first physical attack on a person perpetrated via the internet. A sad point in history, in my view.
Links: coverage from Ars Technica, Eichenwald's Twitter feed. I'm not linking to the offending image - you're big enough to find it on your own and apparently it is quite horrible even for people who do not suffer from epilepsy.
Eichenwald has tweeted that he is involving law enforcement.
Any ideas on how hard it would be to filter out seizure-inducing media (make it click-to-view/play)?
The man accused of triggering an epileptic seizure by tweeting was caught when authorities obtained phone records and access to an iCloud account:
Court documents show that a search warrant to Twitter concerning the @jew_goldstein handle provided the authorities with information that the account was created on December 11 with a "PhoneDevice." Twitter also divulged the device's phone number and said that the carrier was AT&T. Some of the direct messages to other Twitter users on the account, according to the documents, said, "I know he has epilepsy," "I hope this sends him into a seizure," and "...let's see if he dies." The Dallas authorities next obtained information from AT&T that the telephone number used to start the Twitter account was a burner SIM card with a Tracfone prepaid account "with no subscriber information." "However, a review of the AT&T toll records showed an associated Apple iPhone 6A Model 1586 (Apple iPhone)," Nathan Hopp, an FBI agent in Dallas, wrote in the criminal complaint (PDF).
The police then sent a search warrant to Apple "for the iCloud account associated to the telephone number" used to open the Twitter account. Apple provided a wealth of information that ultimately doomed Rivello. Cupertino gave the Dallas Police Department his Apple ID e-mail address, his name, home address, and registration IP address when the account was created in 2012.
John Rayne Rivello has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon "enhanced as a hate crime". One of the images obtained from the iCloud account included an image of Rivello posing with his driver's license. The animated GIF that Rivello allegedly tweeted was a generic one that had already been posted on places such as 4chan for years.