The US Department of Justice officially indicted Reuters Editor, Matthew Keys, late last week on 3 counts of conspiracy relating to a 2010 Anonymous hack attack on the Los Angeles Times. According to the indictment, Keys provided log in information to Tribune Company owned computers and encouraged the hackers to make unauthorized changes to published information.
Matthews Keys had been part of the social media glitteratti among the news media and was recently named to Time Magazine’s 140 best Twitter feeds. He made a name for himself as journalist who infiltrated Anonymous. Keys became the deputy social media editor at Reuters in 2012. The news organization was aware of the charges filed against Keys, but was quick to point out that the “misconduct” had occurred prior to his employment at Reuters.
If convicted, Keys could face up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 for each count, said the Justice Department. The hefty fines and prison time would be the consequences of what amounts to a cyber prank where the title of a Los Angeles Times news article was changed from “Pressure Builds in House to Pass Tax-Cut Package” to “Pressure Builds in the House to Elect CHIPPY 1337.” Protests similar to those that arose after the tragic suicide of Aaron Swartz have again cropped up online.
While there is no doubt that serious incidents of hacking and theft of secure information has been on the rise lately, there are some in the internet industry that have been very vocal about the Justice Department’s perceived overzealous pursuit of individuals of late. President Obama has even been weighing in on the need to address cybersecurity threats. At what point does the critical need to pursue real threats to internet security cross the line into making examples of small time players?
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