Keys protests harsh sentencing recommendations

Lawyers for former Reuters Deputy Social Media Editor Matthew Keys said sentencing guidelines miscalculated prison time.
Lawyers for former Reuters Deputy Social Media Editor Matthew Keys said sentencing guidelines miscalculated prison time.

Journalist Matthew Keys is challenging the recommendation that he serve a prison sentence of more than seven years for conspiring to help the hacktivist group Anonymous hack into the Los Angeles Times and alter information on its website.

In October a federal jury in California convicted the former Reuters deputy social media editor of conspiring to make unauthorized changes to the website, transmitting malicious code, and attempted transmission of malicious code. Keys is up for sentencing this month.

Documents filed by Keys' attorneys in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of California said "Imposing a sentence of over seven years and roughly $250,000 in speculative restitution is a draconian sentence for a minor occurrence that could have been more appropriately handled by a civil lawsuit instead of three federal felony criminal convictions," the filing read, noting that “revenge porn pioneer Hunter Moore” received only 2.5 years for “far worse and far more harmful behavior” than Keys'.

Keys took issue with the presentencing guidelines presented to the court by a probation officer incorrectly saying the harsh sentence was a result of miscalculations of the losses to the Times as a result of the Anonymous hack.

The guidelines were “based on allegations that have little or nothing to do with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) violations he was charged with,” the filing said. “‘Mr. Keys was charged with and convicted of conspiracy to violate, attempt to violate, and actually violating 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(5)(A), which forbids “know[ing] . . . transmission of a program, information, code, or command, [the result of which] intentionally causes damage without authorization to a protected computer.' He was not charged, nor was he convicted of, unauthorized access to a computer and obtaining information, which is covered by an entirely different section of the CFAA.”

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