Reuters deputy social media editor Matthew Keys has been indicted for allegedly working with Anonymous to hack a Tribune Company website, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
The charges concern alleged events that occurred in 2010, when Keys was employed by KTXL FOX 40 in Sacramento, Calif. Keys has been charged on three counts of conspiracy, according to a Justice Department press release:
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Matthew Keys, 26, of Secaucus, N.J., was charged in the Eastern District of California with one count each of conspiracy to transmit information to damage a protected computer, transmitting information to damage a protected computer and attempted transmission of information to damage a protected computer.
Keys was employed by Sacramento-based television station KTXL FOX 40, as its web producer, but was terminated in late October 2010.
The three-count indictment alleges that in December 2010 Keys provided members of the hacker group Anonymous with log-in credentials for a computer server belonging to KTXL FOX 40’s corporate parent, the Tribune Company. According to the indictment, Keys identified himself on an Internet chat forum as a former Tribune Company employee and provided members of Anonymous with a login and password to the Tribune Company server. After providing log-in credentials, Keys allegedly encouraged the Anonymous members to disrupt the website. According to the indictment, at least one of the computer hackers used the credentials provided by Keys to log into the Tribune Company server, and ultimately that hacker made changes to the web version of a Los Angeles Times news feature.
If convicted, Keys could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each count of his indictment. The indictment was posted by Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly and can be viewed here.
According to Politico's Josh Gerstein, Keys will be arraigned on April 12 in Sacramento.
Since joining Reuters, Keys has written about Anonymous for the news wire. In a Feb. 3, 2012 post, Keys wrote about the "latest in a series of data dumps conducted by Anonymous hackers to protest against law enforcement," which also contained information about the identities of those hackers.
Keys' relationship with Anonymous was first addressed when he, in his words, "provided Gawker with just one of dozens of logs that were taken during (his) two-month access to top level hackers within Anonymous."
In a March 6, 2012 post on his Tumblr, responding to a question about Anonymous, Keys argued that journalists should not be afraid of being hacked by Anonymous and that they must be "fearless":
Q. What if Anonymous hacked you for doing all this work against them? Does that ever cross your mind? I hope you have good passwords!
A. Suggesting a journalist shouldn’t report on Anonymous out of fear of being hacked equates to suggesting a journalist shouldn’t go to a war zone because they might be killed, or publish a report on government corruption out of fear of being arrested.
When it comes to the truth, you have to be fearless if you want to make it in this industry.