A federal grand jury has indicted Tyler Barriss on two counts of making hoax bomb threats, including one that famously delayed the Federal Communications Commission’s vote to repeal net neutrality in December, Engadget reports. He called a similar bomb threat into the FBI headquarters later that same month. Barriss was already in police custody, however, charged with manslaughter for orchestrating a “swatting” that resulted in the death of 28-year-old Andrew Finch in Wichita, Kansas, also last December.
The December 14 bomb threat to the FCC only temporarily delayed Chairman Ajit Pai’s effort to repeal Barack Obama-era regulations for ensuring a fair and open internet. The U.S. Senate recently voted by a narrow margin to overturn the FCC’s ruling, but the bill faces an uphill battle through the House of Representatives and a particularly business-friendly White House in order to keep net neutrality alive.
“Swatting” is the practice of calling in extreme hoax threats (hostage situations and the like) on unsuspecting victims, severe enough that the police will send in a SWAT team. In this case, it’s particularly popular among gamers and has gained traction in recent years as streamers make juicy targets for such a cruel, dangerous and non-consensual show. According to court documents, Casey Viner, 18, and Shane Gaskill, 19, got into an argument as teammates while playing Call of Duty: WWII, leading Viner to ask Barriss to swat Gaskill. Gaskill dared Barriss to do so but gave him the address of a home his parents owned and rented to Finch and family. While only Barriss is being charged with manslaughter for directly instigating the swatting, both teens are being charged with some combination of conspiracy, wire fraud, and obstruction of justice for their roles in the incident, as well as its cover-up by deleting direct messages after processing the severity of what went down.
Barriss’ association with the bomb threats should come as no surprise to anyone that knows him, as he has a history of similar incidents. In 2015, Barriss was arrested and charged for calling in a bomb threat to CNN affiliate KABC in Los Angeles, for which he served a two-year sentence.
- T-Mobile says Scam Shield has blocked 21 billion scam calls in 2021
- What net neutrality? FCC head Ajit Pai would rather regulate Facebook
- House votes to restore net neutrality rules, but effort faces long odds
- Democrats aim to save the internet and restore net neutrality
- Mozilla exec calls on Congress to restore 2015 net neutrality protections