Matthew Keys, a social media figure who rose to prominence as one of the media sphere’s first great Twitter power users, was just sentenced to two years in prison for helping deface the website of the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed reports.
Keys, who worked as a social media editor for Reuters, was indicted on federal computer fraud charges after it was revealed he’d conspired with members of Anonymous to deface his employer’s website in 2010 (a charge he denies to this day).
The sentence is far less than the 25 years he originally faced, but still an enormous punishment for what was essentially an act of website vandalism—Keys was charged with violating the controversial Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which has become synonymous with overreaching prosecution for internet crimes. Keys warned about the power of the CFAA in a post on Medium published this morning:
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 wrote about, 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.