The Justice department announced on Thursday that a California district court is charging Matthew Keys, the deputy social media editor at Reuters news agency, with a federal indictment for conspiring with members of the hacker group Anonymous.Keys faces up to 10 years in prison after he allegedly gave the hackers the log-in credentials belonging to a computer server linked to a Tribune Company website.
Keys was previously employee of Tribune Co., where he worked as a web producer for the Sacramento television station KTXS-Fox 40 until his termination in October 2010. According to the indictment, Keys used an Anonymous online chat room with the username “AESCracked” where he allegedly provided the username and password information for both the Fox 40 news channel and the Los Angeles Times. His conversation with a hacker by the screen name “sharpie” is featured in the plaintiff’s accusation, where he informed Keys he “had a whole front page layout made for the Chicago Tribune,” but system administrators terminated his access. Keys offered to “grant [him] access again,” but did not succeed in doing so.
The indictment says that “after providing log-in credentials, Keys allegedly encouraged the Anonymous members to disrupt the website … at least one of the computer hackers used the credentials provided by Keys to long into the Tribune Company server, and ultimately that hacker made changes to the web version of a Los Angeles Times news feature.”
The press release claims that if convicted, Keys would not only face the aforementioned 10 years in prison, but would also have “three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 for each count.”
With the recent hacking accusation of Aaron Swartz, co-developer of reddit and internet activist that took his life on January 11, after being prosecuted for downloading 4.8 million JSTOR articles without authorization, it will be interesting to see how this case unfolds and how the federal government will act. Swartz faced 30 years in prison for his actions.