California Federal Court Thinks Hacking a Website Is Worse Than Rape

Cyber vandalism isn't this bad, is it?!

Meet Matthew Keys.

From his picture on the left, you can see he was a mild-mannered guy with an average $7 haircut but not so tight around the ears. His job was a nice one—deputy social media editor with Reuters. However, Keys led a double life of geekdom.

In his free time, as you can see from the shot on the right, he was a black hat ne’er-do-well with the hacktivist group Anonymous.

Keys, 28, was convicted late last week for his role in a conspiracy to hack Los Angeles Times and Tribune Co. servers. He discovered the passwords and codes to get into the website for some juvenile defacing fun. For his derelict duties, Keys was “found guilty of conspiracy to cause damage to a protected computer, transmission of malicious code, and attempted transmission of malicious code.”

And then came word of his possible sentence: a maximum of 25 years in federal prison. For hacking…and not really doing that much harm. 

Keys’ attorney, Jay Leiderman, said they will appeal after Keys’ sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 20 in Sacramento.

“He shouldn’t be doing a day in jail,” Leiderman said. “With love and respect, [The Times’] story was defaced for 40 minutes when someone found it and fixed it in three minutes. What do you want, a year a minute?”

Keys also has fans in dank places:

Birds of a feather, huh?

Back to the sentence, what makes that even more stunning is that, based on the California Penal Code, this carries a worse penalty than say, grades of assault, felonious crime, or even rape.

No, serving up codes to Anonymous is not a good look. Neither is defacing a major market daily’s website. But the larger story may be what’s wrong with the system here, rather than Keys’ part in it.


[FEATURED PHOTO: Facebook (L), Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty (R)]