The quaint kangaroo court system of the US seems to have got its knickers in a twist about hackers.
A US judge jailed a computer hacker for 10 years for breaking into the email accounts of stars, including managing to take one topless shot of Scarlett Johansson.
The Los Angeles Judge also ordered 36-year-old Christopher Chaney, from Florida, to pay a total of $76,000 to Johansson, Christina Aguilera and Renee Olstead.
Chaney was not a super hacker and he pleaded guilty after a deal with prosecutors. If he had not made that deal he could have been jailed for more than 121 years if convicted on all 26 indictments he was originally charged with, which would have been even sillier.
US District Court Judge James Otero, said Chaney’s conduct demonstrated a “callous disregard to the victims”. Although that was less to do with the celebrities that he targeted and more the other two “ordinary people” he stalked for more than 10 years.
US Attorney Andre Birotte said Chaney gained access to every email sent to more than 48 victims and allowed him to view their most personal information. He caused dozens of illegally obtained, private photographs to be posted on the internet, Birotte said.
While it is difficult to be sympathetic to someone like Chaney it appears that he was not found guilty because of his stalking of non-celebrities.
His arrest by FBI agents grew out of an 11-month investigation into the hacking of over 50 entertainment industry names.
As far as the hack and “wire-tapping” allegation was concerned, it appears that Chaney used open-source, public information to try to guess a celebrity’s email password, and then would breach the account.
It was not so much hacking as guessing and not so much wiretapping as going to their Yahoo or Hotmail page.
After gaining complete access to the hacked account, Chaney then used the contact list to “harvest” new targets, according to the FBI. In other words, once inside one account he looked for other celebrity emails so he could do the same thing.
Bill Lewis of the FBI’s LA office said that Chaney’s actions were tantamount to breaking and entering of their private homes by a thief in the night. In this case, however, his mistake appears to have been targeting Hollywood’s rich and famous for which crime the book can be thrown at him.