SACRAMENTO, Oct. 8 (UPI) — Journalist Matthew Keys was convicted of helping a computer hacking group break into the Los Angeles Times website to vandalize a story.
Keys, 28, was indicted in 2013 for conspiring to cause damage to a protected computer and other similar charges. The federal court in Sacramento, Calif., can sentence him to up to 25 years in prison.
Government prosecutors said Keys offered his login credentials to a forum affiliated with the hackers’ group Anonymous, after he was fired from his job at KTXL-TV, Sacramento, which like the Los Angeles Times is owned by Tribune Co. The hackers tampered with several Times online stories, which were quickly reverted to their original text.
Keys, in his defense, claimed he was gathering information on Anonymous to write a story. After he left KTXL-TV, he went to work for Reuters, which dismissed him after he was charged.
The trial has become a flashpoint for digital rights groups who insist laws regarding computer intrusion are outdated, with penalties overly severe for minor wrongdoing.
Keys’ lawyer, Jay Leiderman, said his client will appeal the conviction, telling the Los Angeles Times, “He shouldn’t be doing a day in jail. With love and respect, (a) story was defaced for 40 minutes when someone found it and fixed it in three minutes. What do you want, a year a minute?”