Journalist Matthew Keys sentenced to two years in jail over role in hacking

14 Apr 2016

Journalist Matthew Keys has been jailed over his role in allegedly passing username and passwords to Anonymous that resulted in the LA Times being defaced

California-based journalist Matthew Keys has been sentenced to two years in prison over his alleged role in the hacking of the LA Times newspaper in 2010.

Keys, who was deputy social media editor at Thomson Reuters, provided the hacking group Anonymous with a username and password to log into computers belonging to the Tribune Company, parent company of The LA Times.

He is understood to have encouraged the hackers, who went on to damage computers and make unauthorised changes to the website.

Keys, who was convicted in October, copied and pasted login credentials for the Tribune Company’s content management system (CMS) into a chat room where members of Anonymous planned their operations.

It is understood that after doing so a hacker called Sharpie defaced an LA Times article changing the headline “Pressure Builds in House to Pass Tax-Cut Package” to “Pressure Builds in House to Elect CHIPPY 1337,” in reference to another hacking group.

‘I am innocent, and I did not ask for this fight’

Keys denies all allegations and posted on Medium that the accusations were “baseless, absurd and entirely wrong”.

He defended his record as a journalist, including a 14-month investigation into cellphone surveillance in a high-profile US crime case.

“I am innocent, and I did not ask for this fight. Nonetheless, I hope that our combined efforts help bring about positive change to rules and regulations that govern our online conduct.

“As I’ve previously written, nobody should face terrorism charges for passing a Netflix username and password. But under today’s law, prosecutors can use their discretion to bring those exact charges against people—including journalists—whenever they see fit. Prosecutors did so in this case. Until the law catches up with the times, there’s no doubt that prosecutors will do it again.”

In a tweet, Keys said he intends to challenge the sentencing.

Main image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years