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Lauri Love plans to use ‘internet as a force for good’

Engineering student Lauri Love says he plans to help businesses fight cyber crime, after the court of appeal ruled that he can be tried in the UK for allegedly hacking US computer systems, rather than face extradition to the US

A relieved Lauri Love (pictured above) plans to concentrate on using the internet as ‘a force for good’, getting volunteers together to combat malware attacks.

He told Computer Weekly he is setting up a social enterprise “so, with other partners, we can help in the event of a crisis such as WannaCry” – the ransomware that disrupted a large part of the NHS in 2017.

Speaking after yesterday’s landmark ruling that he should not be extradited to the US to face allegations of hacking US government agencies, Love said: “It is more than a massive weight off my shoulders; the parasite I have been carrying on my soul has disappeared. It frees up my mind to concentrate fully on what I am doing.”

Love said he had always argued that if he was charged he should face a trial in the UK, rather than get immunity.

The appeals court threw out the decision to extradite handed down at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in 2016. It said extradition would be “oppressive” because of its impact on Love’s physical and mental health.

It was the first time that the Forum Bar – brought in to protect vulnerable defendants from extradition – had been applied. The 33-year-old engineering student had said he would commit suicide if he were extradited.

Love, who is Aspergic and suffers from depression, said he hopes people facing extradition in the future will be afforded the protection they need to face trial in the UK, and that his case will contribute to the general conversation around mental health so people better accommodate those with mental health issues.

Naomi Colvin from the Courage Foundation, which backed Love’s case, said: “I think we have seen off attempts to do this for a generation.”

Strong sense of civic responsibility

Love wants to do more work in the cyber security field. “Nobody can escape the internet – it’s a bubble that encases our lives now. I feel a strong sense of civic responsibility to ensure internet security,” he said.

Love said he got involved in combating WannaCry because “had there not been a quick response to give people the guidance to mitigate the problem or the risk, there could have been a loss of life”.

“I think we dodged the bullet with WannaCry,” he warned.

“People are constantly putting out small fires on the internet. If I can help find those hands to put out those ‘fires’ I can make a contribution”
Lauri Love

Love said there had been “no direct dialogue” between the US surveillance organisation, the National Security Agency (NSA), and volunteers acting to combat WannaCry, even though leaked NSA hacking tools were used in the construction of the malware.

That has spurred him to get behind a social enterprise to bring hackers together. 

“People are constantly putting out small fires on the internet, and sometimes there’s a big conflagration. At the moment there’s no civic response to that, having volunteer firefighters. That’s something I can contribute to,” he said. “If I can help find those hands to put out those ‘fires’ I can make a contribution.”

The US has 14 days to lodge a challenge on legal grounds. In the UK, the Crown Prosecution Service has yet to decide whether it will charge Love,with any offences.

Lauri Love's father, Rev Alexander Love said after the verdict; "The other person who should be happy today is our Prime Minister because basically the compassion she showed over Gary McKinnon, which was enshrined in law, with the forum bar, has actually come to fruition." 

Barry Sheerman, Labour MP who has been campaigning in Parliament, told Lauri: “You’ve been inspirational. This will stand, this will stand no matter what spectrum you are on, you will win.”

Reporting team: Bill Goodwin, Julia Gregory, Niels Ladefoged 

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