Keys was convicted of violating America’s terrible Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a federal computer-crime statute so broad and vague that you’ve probably already violated it several times this year. The CFAA—the same law that ensnared Aaron Swartz, Andrew “weev” Auernheimer, and other notable defendants—gives federal prosecutors the latitude to categorize a wide range of computer-related activity as felonious, and to willfully and regularly conflate the malicious with the innocuous. Have you ever used a friend’s password to access her Netflix or HBO Go accounts without paying for them, or used some other means to evade a paywall or otherwise violate a website’s terms of service? Congratulations! You’re a potential felon.
He defaced a few words on a news website that was corrected after 40 minutes. He didn’t actually hack the website, he just gave his login info to someone else who did it (who was not charged), and it was merely a few words of a Los Angeles Times article being changed such at the title reading: “Pressure builds in House to elect CHIPPY 1337.”
This Computer Fraud and Abuse Act law is so bad it can be pretty much be thrown at anyone, it drove Aaron Scwartz to commit suicide a few years back and it can be thrown at you for using your relative’s Netflix account, and now it is putting an former employee of a news organization behind bars for 2 years (the judge wanted 5) for a simple act of juvenile protest.
So Keys got 2 years behind bars for defacing a website for 40 minutes while also today the “affluenza teen” who actually murdered people got two years in jail as well. Seems like justice is acting fairly, eh?