Former Reuters journalist Matthew Keys tweeted, ‘This whole process has been exhausting’, as he was sentenced to 2 years in prison on hacking charges.
Convicted last October, Keys faced a maximum 25 years in prison for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). His crime? Sharing login details for Tribune Media in an Anonymous chatroom, which led to the brief alteration of an article headline.
The story, featured on the LA Times website, was about a tax bill. Its headline was changed to ‘Pressure builds in House to elect CHIPPY 1337’ by an unknown individual. Although it was only live for about 40 mins before being corrected, Tribune Media claimed the alteration cost them $929,977. Pretty ridiculous, right? Most people thought so, especially activists and those in the tech community. This was because Keys was charged under the controversial CFAA, legislation passed in 1986 that describes hacking in vague terms and carries large sentences. Because of the ambiguity of what is considered a ‘computer crime’, prosecutors can interpret the legislation in a number of ways. The inconsistency this leads to in sentencing has led many to try and reform the CFAA, however so far these efforts have stalled in Congress.
Although there’s overwhelming evidence against him, including a confession, Keys is still maintaining his innocence. ‘I am innocent, and I did not ask for this fight,’ Keys wrote in a blog post published prior to his sentencing. ‘Nonetheless, I hope that our combined efforts help bring about positive change to rules and regulations that govern our online conduct.’
Since his sentencing, Keys has tweeted that he and his attorneys plan to file a motion to stay the sentence, pending appeal.