NEWS FROM THE LAB - Monday, June 20, 2011

Student faces US extradition over copyright charges? Posted by Sean @ 17:42 GMT

Richard O'Dwyer was in the news this weekend. He's a 23-year-old from the UK that is facing extradition to the USA over tvshack.net, a website which was seized by the US government due to claims of copyright infringement.

O'Dwyer has the same lawyer as Gary McKinnon, who allegedly hacked into United States military and NASA computers back in 2001. McKinnon has been diagnosed with a form of autism and of having a precarious state of mental health. His mother has claimed he's suicidal and would not survive US prison.

Richard O'Dwyer's mother is also front and center in her son's defense.

She told the BBC that "To me he's just a geeky boy, who sits in his room messing on his computer."

We decided to learn more.

O'Dwyer has been widely reported to be a Sheffield Hallam University student.

We found this by doing a Google Images search:


It says he graduated in 2008. Perhaps he's a post-graduate student?

But then there was this Facebook page that caught our eye:


Richard O'Dwyer… Athlete.

That's a very nice Mini.


Looks expensive.


There's Richard's photo.


And there's a link to his website, odwyerracing.com.


O'Dwyer Racing is not online.

Last week, the site suddenly began redirecting to a company called Web Design Yorkshire at richardodwyer.co.uk.

This is what O'Dwyer Racing looked like:

O'Dwyer Racing

O'Dwyer Racing's YouTube channel — http://www.youtube.com/user/RichardODwyer — is also no longer available.

However, some of the individual videos can still be seen (for the moment).

Now, all this paints a very different picture than that of the "geeky boy sitting in his room with his computer". (Is it all just a defense strategy?) Perhaps his mother's view is truly one side of Richard O'Dwyer. And perhaps O'Dwyer really is in fact a student. But clearly there's another side to Richard, racing car enthusiast and businessman, and it's a side that somebody is now trying to erase.

And that's easier said then done in the age of Social Media.

Remember folks, if you put it online, it tends to stay online in one form or another (up to seven years).

Setting aside the legal questions, we look forward to seeing how Richard's digital persona evolves as his lawyer fights extradition.