Matthew Keys is guilty and should go to prison for his hacking

Sometimes you can read a story about an alleged criminal, and it’s hard to tell if the person was actually guilty or not. But in the case of Matthew Keys, convicted of breaking into the LA Times website as part of a conspiracy with the online network Anonymous, it’s obvious he’s guilty as sin and deserves to be put away.


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How do I know he’s guilty? His lawyer isn’t even denying he did it:

Leiderman, one of Keys’ lawyers, also told Ars that in the appeal phase, he would argue that no real damage was done to the Tribune’s systems.

“Here, they can click a button and click revert to backup story, so we’re asserting that there’s no damage under the meaning of the CFAA— that’s probably our main argument at this point,” he said.

That’s basically an admission he did it. The claim here by his lawyers, undercutting his own weak claims of innocence, is that even if he did it, it wasn’t really illegal under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), under which he was convicted. This is clearly a reference to 18 USC 1030(a)(5).

Speaking as an experienced professional who’s worked on news websites, vandalizing a website clearly qualifies. This sort of thing can blow a whole afternoon for multiple salaried or contracted people in the organization, trying to revert, and then dealing with the bad version of the story getting disseminated and cached.

Keys helped break something. That thing could be fixed, but it still took time paid for by the company to get it fixed. That’s a loss, and he deserved to be convicted for helping cause that loss.

I have a preferred punishment for anarchists who break into servers, but the Congress has not yet seen fit to impose it on Anonymous and the group’s allies. Until then we’ll have to settle for felony convictions and prison time.

Photo by Pierre (Rennes) on flickr