You read that right. According to the Huffington Post, Khairullozhon Matanov is a former cab driver from Quincy, Massachusetts, who was friendly with Boston Marathon bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Matanov, who the site says told police he had dinner with the Tsarnaev brothers the night before the bombing, is now being charged with an interesting crime.
The site goes on to mention that Matanov told police he knew the Tsarnaev brothers, but lied about several details of his time with them, as well as deleting his browser history after looking at pictures of his accused friends online after the bombings.
It has long been the government’s stance that you shouldn’t mind being spied on unless you’re doing something wrong or illegal. Whether Matanov was doing something wrong or just wanted privacy, The Nation mentioned he was charged with destroying “records, documents, or tangible objects” with intent to obstruct a federal investigation after he erased videos that may have proven he was a terrorist sympathizer. As the site explains, Matanov’s charges are being levied in accordance with the Sarbannes-Oxley Law, which was enacted in 2004 after the fall of Enron to prevent destruction of incriminating documents.
This isn’t the first time the Sarbannes-Oxley Law has been referenced in a criminal trial. As Inquisitr reports, a fisherman by the name of Yates was charged with discarding the “evidence”, or fish he caught illegally, and replacing them with legally-obtained fish. No word yet on whether Matanov will be appealing or fighting the charges in any way. As technology becomes more and more advanced, privacy continues to be a concern. The fact that the internet is largely public, open, and unregulated is both very empowering — and quite terrifying — to the general population.
The Verge mentions that the FBI had been tracking Matanov for about a year before his arrest, and his particular crime could carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. No word yet on whether Matanov will fight the charges or not. Agents from the FBI told the Boston Globe that their surveillance of Matanov was not at all covert, adding that they’d instructed Matanov to stay away from Boston on the 4th of July. Matanov was reported to have complied with the requests.
Matanov’s arrest and similar incidents call into question the idea of whether the NSA and similar government organizations should need warrants to search the browser history of anyone they consider suspicious. On the other hand, oftentimes we can transmit our information to other entities without even realizing it, so how can we keep a tab on what the government is and isn’t doing?
Lately, the public has been pushing for better security and privacy online, and those initiatives are getting some attention. For example, in the U.S., the public was successful at defeating SOPA and PIPA, two proposed congressional acts that opponents criticized as essentially censoring the internet and giving preference to the super wealthy. As the struggle to find a balance between the government’s need to protect people and people’s desire to feel secure in their everyday lives continues, Matanov’s trial is sure to raise more questions from both sides. Where does national security overlap with the rights of people like Matanov? Is there any overlap at all?
[Photo Credit: The Daily Beast]