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Swiss Hacker’s Indictment Spotlights Ethics of Activist Attacks

  • Tillie Kottmann charged with computer intrusion, data theft
  • Accusation separate from exposure of surveillance camera flaws
Tillie Kottman
Tillie KottmanPhotographer: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg

The indictment of a 21-year-old Swiss hacker who claimed credit for exposing the flaws in a surveillance camera company’s system is likely to stir debate about whether attacks by activists for social or political causes are criminal behavior.

Tillie Kottmann, who uses they/them pronouns, was indicted Thursday in Seattle and charged with crimes including wire fraud and identity theft. Kottmann made headlines last week when they claimed credit for gaining access to the 150,000 security cameras sold by San Mateo, California-based Verkada Inc. While the charges don’t involve the Verkada incident, Kottmann previously said they hacked Nissan Motor Co., and leaked documents from chipmaker Intel Corp.