Journalist gets two-year jail time for helping Anonymous hack LA Times

Matthew Keys handed 2 years prison sentence for helping Anonymous in hacking Los Angeles Times

Ex-Reuters employee and social media journalist, Matthew Keys was found guilty of conspiring with hacking group Anonymous to break into the Los Angeles Times website. Keys was convicted of giving login credentials to the online hacktivist group to further their hacking objectives. He was sentenced to two years in prison on Wednesday in a case that has sparked national debate about how the US prosecutes hacking offenses.

Keys, who was found guilty of three criminal counts in October, was convicted of giving Anonymous login credentials to the computer system of the Tribune Company, which owns the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun and other media companies.

According to the prosecutors, Keys provided the login credentials to Anonymous for facilitating the hack and also egged them to carry out the hack attack. Keys got hold of the login details from his time as a web producer for KTXL FOX40, a radio station which is owned by Tribune Company which also owns LA Times. The prosecutors said that Anonymous wouldnt have hacked LA Times if Keys had not supplied them with login credentials.

Prosecution said that Keys was a former employee of KTXL-TV, a Tribune-owned Fox affiliate in Sacramento and his firing was the primary reason why Keys helped Anonymous. The US attorney’s office asserted that the incident was payback by a disgruntled former employee.

Soon after a judge announced the sentence in federal court in Sacramento on Wednesday, Keys tweeted that he was pushing forward with an appeal. He also added : “[W]e’re not only going to work to reverse the conviction but try to change this absurd computer law, as best we can.”

In a Medium blog post this morning, Keys wrote of the impending hearing calling the charges against him “baseless, absurd and entirely wrong.” After thanking his supporters Keys said he wasn’t sure what to expect from a verdict, noting “today is the most-important day of my life so far.”

He further argued that prosecutors have overly broad discretion to bring excessively punitive terrorism charges against people for minor offenses online. “Until the law catches up with the times, there’s no doubt that prosecutors will do it again,” he wrote.

Keys, now 29, was fired from his job as a social media editor at Reuters news agency when prosecutors first filed charges in 2013. He has used his own website for continued reporting as his case has moved forward.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an nonprofit defending civil liberties in the digital world, has argued that Keys’ case was an example of “prosecutorial discretion run amok”, criticizing the controversial federal anti-hacking statute known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

“This case underscores how computer crimes are prosecuted much more harshly than analogous crimes in the physical world,” the EFF wrote after he was convicted.

At the time of the hearing proceedings, US Judge had said that

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