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Chris Chaney pleads guilty to hacking over 50 celebrities' smartphones for fun and profit

Between November 2010 and October 2011, there were a rash of hacking of high-profile celebrities smartphones.  Starlets like Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera, Mila Kunis had sexually explicit or provocative pictures stolen from their devices and released onto the internet.

In Scarlett Johansson's case fully nude pictures, meant to be seen by then-husband Ryan Reynolds were exposed for the world to see.  She recalls, "I have been truly humiliated and embarrassed."

But intrusions weren't the work of a team of savvy hackers; they were the twisted hobby-horse of a single man, according to federal prosecutors -- Christopher Chaney, a 35-year-old Jacksonville, Fla. resident.

On Monday, justice was served and U.S. District Judge S. James Otero weighed a seemingly remorseful Mr. Chaney versus tearful celebrities like Ms. Johansson, who comments, "I find Christopher Chaney's actions to be perverted and reprehensible."

The federal judge gave the hacker a prison sentence of 10 years after pleading guilty of several criminal counts under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 (18 USC § 1030) -- unauthorized access to a computer and illegal wiretapping.  (In the U.S. only federal agents are allowed to wiretap people.)

Mr. Chaney could have faced a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison, but the sentence he did receive wasn't exactly lenient either.  Prosecutors were only seeking a sentence of 6 years, but Judge Otero was concerned that Mr. Chaney hadn't truly changed his ways and needed longer away from the world of electronics.  According to the Judge, prosecutors presented evidence that Mr. Chaney continued to pursue and harass women online after his arrest in October 2011.

In all, Mr. Chaney's "Operation Hackerazzi" breached the smartphones of 50 Hollywood and music industry celebrities.  But he was also alleged of hacking into some close acquaintances phones, including send a nude picture of a former co-worker to her father.

Chris Chaney
Chris Chaney claims he sorry for all the hacking and denies accusations that he hacked into real-world acquaintances' devices. [Image Source: AP]

Mr. Chaney does not deny hacking the celebrity phones, but was apologetic.  He, however, refused to admit to hacking his acquaintances phones, insisting he never did that.  He comments, "I don't know what else to say other than I'm sorry.  I could be sentenced to never use a computer again and I wouldn't care."

The Judge is quoted as telling him, "It's hard to fathom the mindset of a person who would accomplish all of this.  These types of crimes are as pernicious and serious as physical stalking."

Now he will spend a better part of the next decade of his life behind bars (although he could get out early if gets parole).

Source: AP on Google News



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RE: .
By robiwon on 12/18/2012 2:34:36 AM , Rating: 2
So, we should give up our basic right to some sort privacy, because of basement dweller combined some lame code that cannot prevent the simplest of hacks.

Last time I checked most houses have glass windows. It is a crime to break a window and go through someones personal belongings. How is this any different? Have you ever experienced a home break-in?

This guy seems like he is a serial home invader of the digital kind. He can enjoy the next few years of having his personal space "invaded".


RE: .
By StevoLincolnite on 12/18/2012 4:35:06 AM , Rating: 5
I'm not saying to give up your basic rights, that's putting words in my mouth.
I'm just saying to use common sense.
You will NEVER stop hackers and you will never be able to have 100% privacy, it's just the way the world works.

You will always get people who break into your home, go through your letter box, stalk you on social networks etc'.

You can however minimize such risks.


RE: .
By cyberguyz on 12/18/2012 6:00:09 AM , Rating: 5
"Last time I checked most houses have glass windows. It is a crime to break a window and go through someones personal belongings. How is this any different? Have you ever experienced a home break-in?"

There's a big difference here: You can't take your house with you and leave it sitting in a restaurant or get mugged for it.

Do you get 10 years for a Break & Enter? Max I have ever heard of is 2 years. Paedophiles don't even get 10 years.

Agreed invasion of privacy is a crime, but is it a crime that required the same kind of punishment as rape or murder? Judge in this case seems to think so.

the question isn't if this guy should be punished. Of course he should. The question is "Does the punishment fit the crime?". Shit no.


RE: .
By ilt24 on 12/18/2012 9:16:51 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Do you get 10 years for a Break & Enter? Max I have ever heard of is 2 years. Paedophiles don't even get 10 years.


How many years does a person get for dozens of B&E's with some of them done after an inital arrest? He wasn't in court for one criminal act, it was a long string of them.


RE: .
By cyberguyz on 12/20/2012 6:02:36 AM , Rating: 1
Not 10 years. Perhaps 5 for the "3-time-loser".

Sorry, but the punishment just does NOT fit the crime. This judge's has verdict was faulty.

On the defendant's side, he was stupid as shit to plead 'guilty' and expect mercy. He should have fought it. At least then he would be able to appeal. But if you plead guilty, you pretty much throw that possibility away and this judge knew it.

I am sure he made a whole lot of rich celebrities really happy.


RE: .
By SandmanWN on 12/21/2012 1:10:01 PM , Rating: 2
He did the smart thing. He took a one shot punishment deal for all cases and placed it on the leniency of a single judge.

Do you really think he would have done better with 50 individual cases each with a high priced celebrity lawyer involved?
Guy would be in jail for the rest of his life if he fought that battle.


RE: .
By tng on 12/18/2012 10:49:15 AM , Rating: 2
I have to agree with SL here, that is why I keep all my porn on non networked storage!


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