by AT News Team
The Ellen G. White Estate has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Baltimore seeking an injunction against Brendan Knudson and damages for hacking a web site which evidently housed unpublished manuscripts by the cofounder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Nothing has been said as to why, if the manuscripts are intended to be kept secret, they were stored in this form.
According to a report released August 22 by Courthouse News Service (CNS), Knudson lives in Europe and is originally from Australia. Court filings by the Estate claim that as many as 20 other, unnamed individuals have been involved in the hacking attempts from a number of international locations during February 17 through April 9, 2012, says the news service.
Adventist Today has previously reported on an announcement of an Adventist version of WikiLeaks that promised to publish the previously unreleased documents written by White. She wrote 40 books and more than 5,000 periodical articles which have long been public. “Her estate claims copyrights to more than 50,000 pages of her writings,” reports CNS. It is unclear if the 50,000 pages include the published books and articles or how many of the pages have already been made public through the many manuscript releases the estate has made available over the years.
Scholars who have studied White’s original materials, including some who have been employees of the Estate, generally believe that little of significance is among the unpublished manuscripts. At the same time, there have been persistent rumors of various items that might be surprising to some people. Generally, the Estate has permitted legitimate scholars full access to all of the files that it holds, while insisting on a formal approval process before any quotations can be published. A similar process is used in almost all other archival collections in the United States.
CNS quotes legal documents filed with the Federal court by the Ellen G. White Estate which charge Knudson with seeking help from hackers to break into its database after it refused his demands for unrestricted access. He appears to be among those who are of the opinion that all of the original White materials should be made public, but he may also be motivated by what might be a business opportunity.
“On January 13 … under [an] alias … Knudson … registered his profile on an Internet forum” called Hack Forums “used by computer hackers to with the purpose of communicating, organizing and hiring hackers,” CNS quotes the complaint filed with the court. “Knudson frequently used the alias … across the Internet and social media.” He “engaged in a determined and aggressive effort to hack into the Estate’s technologically protected web sites.”
“Knudson indicated that his intention was ‘to perform a public service’ [but he] left his digital fingerprints and address on [a] PayPal agreement to sell the unpublished White writings,” CNS reports. The news service also reports that he “compromised his anonymity” by leaving comments in response to an Adventist Today article in March.
“The estate seeks an injunction and damages for violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Stored Communications Act and other laws.” The CNS report says nothing about whether United States courts have jurisdictional agreements with Armenia, the country where the complaint says he currently resides.