A computer hacker was sentenced on Monday to three years and five months
in prison for stealing the personal data of about 120,000 Apple Inc
iPad users, including big-city mayors, a TV network news anchor and a
Hollywood movie mogul.
Andrew Auernheimer, 27, had been convicted in
November by a Newark, New Jersey, jury of one count of conspiracy to
access AT&T Inc servers without permission, and one count of
The sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Susan
Wigenton in Newark was at the high end of the 33- to 41-month range that
the U.S. Department of Justice had sought.
Prosecutors had said prison time would help deter hackers from invading the privacy of innocent people on the Internet.
those affected by Auernheimer's activities were ABC News anchor Diane
Sawyer, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and
Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein, prosecutors said.
it became clear that he was in trouble, he concocted the fiction that
he was trying to make the Internet more secure, and that all he did was
walk in through an unlocked door," U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a
statement. "The jury didn't buy it, and neither did the court in
Auernheimer had sought probation. His lawyer
had argued that no passwords were hacked, and that a long prison term
was unjustified given that the government recently sought six months for
a defendant in a case involving "far more intrusive facts."
The lawyer, Tor Ekeland, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday. He has said his client would appeal.
is also a lawyer for Matthew Keys, a deputy social media editor at
Thomson Reuters Corp who was suspended with pay on Friday.
was indicted last week in California on federal charges of aiding the
Anonymous hacking collective by giving a hacker access to Tribune Co
computer systems in December 2010.
The alleged events occurred
before Keys began working at the website Reuters.com. Ekeland on Friday
said Keys "maintains his innocence" and "looks forward to contesting
these baseless charges.
Auernheimer a "well-known computer hacker and internet 'troll,'" who
with co-defendant Daniel Spitler and the group Goatse Security tried to
disrupt online content and services.
The two men were accused of
using an "account slurper" designed to match email addresses with
identifiers for iPad users, and of conducting a "brute force" attack to
extract data about those users, who accessed the Internet through the
This stolen information was then provided to the
website Gawker, which published an article naming well-known people
whose emails had been compromised, prosecutors said.
Spitler pleaded guilty in June 2011 to the same charges for which Auernheimer was convicted, and is awaiting sentencing.
was not charged in the case. In its original article, Gawker said
Goatse obtained its data through a script on AT&T's website that was
accessible to anyone on the Internet. Gawker also said in the article
that it established the authenticity of the data through two people
listed among the names. A Gawker spokesman on Monday declined to
AT&T has partnered with Apple in the United States
to provide wireless service on the iPad. After the hacking, it shut off
the feature that allowed email addresses to be obtained.
The case is U.S. v. Auernheimer, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 11-00470.
© Thomson Reuters 2013