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Who Is Matthew Keys?

Matthew Keys is an Internet hero, I guess. He was a social media guy with a big Twitter following, and then he lost or quit his job after publicly criticizing his TV station's newscasts, and then he went into Anonymous's chat room (they have a chat room) and was like "hey you guys wanna fuck some shit up? Here is my password to HBOGo." Now he has been sentenced to two years in prison for facilitating vandalism of the Los Angeles Times website with his super-admin credentials that could be used for any Tribune Media property, and Slate can't believe it, how is that even a crime?

What Is Slate Saying, And How Dumb Is It?

Slate's new headline is even dishonester than their old one! Matthew Keys Will Serve Two Years for Something That Was Barely a Crime. It’s a Travesty.

Have you ever used a friend’s password to access her Netflix or HBO Go accounts without paying for them, or used some other means to evade a paywall or otherwise violate a website’s terms of service? Congratulations! You’re a potential felon.

The Department of Justice doesn’t make a habit of prosecuting frugal cord-cutters, of course. But the CFAA [Computer Fraud and Abuse Act] is written broadly enough that a U.S. attorney could throw the book at you for so absurdly minor an infraction, if she wanted to. That’s precisely the problem: A law that qualifies basically everything as a crime means that ambitious computer-crime prosecutors can count anything one, and bring criminal prosecutions against people who have no business going to prison.

Keys was convicted of providing some random dude with backend login information that allowed him to briefly vandalize one article on the Los Angeles Times website.

That only one article was vandalized, and only briefly, was not for Matthew Keys's lack of trying.

Let the considerably more honest Sarah Jeong at Vice take a whack. (Her deep reporting on the trial is absolutely worth reading in full.)

“The evidence at trial was that Matthew Keys gave a malicious online hacking group super-user credentials to the Los Angeles Times, and told them to … mess stuff up,” said [Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew] Segal. (The actual quote from the chat transcript is “go fuck some shit up”).

“And what he did after that when they didn’t mess stuff up enough to his liking, is that he took a link to an article that the Los Angeles Times had published, and said that this is why the Los Angeles Times must be ‘demolished.’ I don’t understand how any person, journalist or not, could consider that journalism or promoting the First Amendment. That is a serious threat to all the things that the First Amendment is supposed to protect.”

The dumb edits to the LA Times's article lasted only a few minutes before they were spotted and fixed. Jeong points out the LA Times's purported losses of almost a million dollars were almost certainly without foundation. But everything's fair when someone runs an article that's critical of Wikileaks!

Is Matthew Keys An Actual Child, Or Is He A Full-Grown Adult Who Should Face Consequences For Sabotaging The Property Of His Former Employer?

Matthew Keys was 25 years old when this whole thing went down. So. Depends on your definition of "child," I guess, but he is definitely a Millennial, which means that he is definitely not sorry for what he did and is pretty mad that everyone is out to get him.

Was Matthew Keys A Nightmare Ex-Employee Who Rained 'Terror' On His Former Bosses?

Yeah, li'l bit. He snagged the station's newsletter list and sent spams from "Cancerman" that made old ladies cry. Coincidentally, some employees' online credentials stopped working like 20 times a day. (The government did not prove this was Keys's work.) Then he sat around Anonymous's chatcave begging people to go fuck shit up. That only one person took him up on it, Slate says, means he didn't hardly do anything wrong!

Here's Jeong again:

For Tribune Company, and for the government, the computer hacking case against Matthew Keys begins with the Cancerman emails. Although the government indictment focuses almost exclusively on the LA Times hack, the case mounted in court shows the hack as the culmination of a longer arc of retribution, a campaign of terror mounted over weeks.

“Individuals who use ‘bully’ tactics to attack computer networks will face justice for their actions,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Monica Miller, in an official statement from the US Attorney’s office in Sacramento.

“This was a prosecution against a trusted insider who used his network access to attempt, in his own words, to demolish the business of his former employer,” Assistant US Attorney Matthew Segal told me after the verdict.

“Yeah, this was not the crime of the century,” said Segal. “But you cannot do this stuff. And when you do, it’s a federal crime.”

And here's Slate:

If the government’s case is accurate, then Keys is clearly guilty of something. But the damage was quickly fixed, at relatively minimal expense. No servers crashed as a result of this incursion. No lasting harm was done. So why go so hard at a journalist for such a minor offense? It’s possible to ascribe the case to inexperience—the district in which Keys was charged does not often handle computer-crime cases—and general prosecutorial intransigence. I think it’s just as likely that the prosecutors just didn’t care for Keys’ attitude.

Do YOU Care For Keys's Attitude?

In fact, I do not!

You're Just A Neoliberal Law And Order Centrist Who's Not Even Down With The Revolution Though, Right?

That too! I don't even think the government killed Aaron Swartz by filing charges against him for stealing millions of JSTOR documents, even if his earlier work targeting PACER and the Library of Congress was super cool because those were public records, not copyrighted journals. I think the prosecutors' offer of six months time in minimum security in that case -- and I diverge from Charles P. Pierce Esq. himself here -- was one that he ought to have taken instead of his own life. Also, I don't like stealing because I am a bad socialist who is bad.

So Actually We Don't Even Have To Listen To You At All Then

Correctamundo. I'm pretty lame.

[Vice on sentencing / Vice deep dive / Slate]

Rebecca Schoenkopf

Rebecca Schoenkopf is the owner, publisher, and editrix of Wonkette. She is a nice lady, SHUT UP YUH HUH. She is very tired with this fucking nonsense all of the time, and it would be terrific if you sent money to keep this bitch afloat. She is on maternity leave until 2033.

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