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Palin Email Snoop Found Guilty On 2 Charges 291

Posted by Soulskill
from the sorry-about-your-luck dept.
netbuzz writes "A federal jury in Knoxville today has convicted David Kernell, 22, of two charges — misdemeanor computer fraud and felony obstruction of justice — in connection with the 2008 episode where he accessed the personal Yahoo email account of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and then initiated a worldwide rummaging of its contents. The obstruction charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years."
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Palin Email Snoop Found Guilty On 2 Charges

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  • by random coward (527722) on Friday April 30, 2010 @04:52PM (#32049436)
    They also hung on the count of Identity Theft; The DA can retry that later if he so chooses.
    • "Who would want it? The defense rests."
  • by Halborr (1373599)
    My question is: Why is going through someone else's email different than going through their regular mail? What makes the addition of a computer so special?
    • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Friday April 30, 2010 @04:56PM (#32049530) Journal

      One is a felony Mail tampering, one is computer tampering. Email is not considered the same as regular Mail.

      And while my mailbox has a lock on it, it is simple and easy to bypass, I'd hate to see people make the same excuses for someone lifting mail from my box as they do for people lifting email from Hotmail (or whatever).

    • by alvinrod (889928)
      It's not necessarily special to me; however, I see that you've listed your email address which makes it incredibly easy for me, a person with no other information about you, to invade your privacy. Going through your regular mail requires physical access to it. I can try getting at your email from almost anywhere on the planet, or probably even off of it. In that case, there may be some question about the precedence of local laws and such. Which state laws apply? The state of the accused, the state where th
    • by zero_out (1705074)

      The USPS is an agency of the US government, while email is just an agreed upon standard and service provided by private entities. Snail mail is handled by USPS (government) employees from the the time the sender gives it to the USPS, until the USPS gives it to the recipient. Email is handled by multiple servers, routing packets from one point to another, which are (almost entirely) owned by private entities.

      In the case of international snail mail, the laws that apply to the USPS only apply while it is wit

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Friday April 30, 2010 @04:54PM (#32049490) Homepage

    I understand (and agree) that the guy should be punished for hacking this account, but how come nothing ever happend about Palin conducting official State business using her personal email account? Is it because the information was technically obtained illegaly? Or did something happen and I just missed it...?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Do you seriously think Palin will be held responsible for anything?

      She's a master at evading responsiblity. She even supposedly got her daughter off scot-free for $20K in damages to someone else's house during a party. See here [alaskawtf.com] and here [blogspot.com].

      As long as there is corrupt cronyism, the guilty can do whatever they want.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by huckamania (533052)

        More unsubstantiated hear say to go along with all of the other whispers about Sarah and her family.

        So basically a home up for sale was broken into by 3 adult boys, some underage boys and some underage girls. A party occurred and some damage was done. When caught, all of the boys blame one of the underage girls, whose mother just happens to be the ex-governor of the state. The ex-governor then starts calling in favors, intimidating the other parents and calling secret meetings with state officials to c

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I have no idea what she may or may not have done while she was there, but there's no way that she thought it was legal for her to be in that house doing whatever it was she was doing. Let's say, for sake of argument, that some random guy broke down my front door and then, later, Willow Palin noticed my door was open, walked in, spent several hours hanging out in my house, broke nothing and took nothing. Unless I'm crazy (which is always a possibility), it's still criminal trespassing. If she accompanied

    • It's OK as far as I know to prosecute on information obtained illegally, as long as the perpetrators of the illegal information gathering were not law enforcement. IANAL, so...

    • You missed something (Score:5, Informative)

      by random coward (527722) on Friday April 30, 2010 @05:17PM (#32049886)
      An Alaska judge has sided with former Gov. Sarah Palin in a lawsuit over e-mail, finding that state law doesn't forbid the use of private e-mail accounts to conduct state business. [juneauempire.com]


      Just because you want it to be illegal doesn't make it illegal; i.e. laws have to be passed by legislature first.
  • but you do this, and you get 20 years on average.

    it seems like u.s. justice system is so fucked up.
    • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Friday April 30, 2010 @05:09PM (#32049758)
      Two years only happens in extenuating circumstances (say, a woman kills her rapist after the fact; it's murder, but it's really hard to apply a tough sentence). Murder is rarely punished with a mere two years. That said, sentencing guidelines are fscked up, because it's always easier to appear "tough on crime" than it is to establish just guidelines.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      You can kill a guy and never go to jail, like Laura Bush, or a woman and never go to jail like Ted Kennedy.

    • Also, the maximum sentence is 20 years, not the average sentence. Obstruction of justice covers a lot of scenarios, so the 20 years is for the guy who goes around cleaning the blood and fingerprints off the murder weapons of a friend of his (yes, accomplice after the fact to murder would cover this, but you get the idea). I have a really hard time believing this guy will get anything close to 20 years.
    • > it seems like u.s. justice system is so fucked up.
      It probably is. But your post here, vastly understating murder sentences and exaggerating obstruction charges, is a good example of how twisted and oblivious to reality the American mind can be. And, since people like you often vote, we don't really have to look that far to see why the "system is so fucked up".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)

      but you do this, and you get 20 years on average.
      it seems like u.s. justice system is so fucked up.

      In the American federal system, murder is almost always prosecuted under state law. Sentencing Guidelines As Applied To Murder [crimevictimsunited.org] [Oregon, 1998]

      You want to see a change in sentencing? Talk to your state legislator.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday April 30, 2010 @04:58PM (#32049556) Journal

    What did he do that qualifies as obstruction of justice?

  • if he's a first time offender I hope he doesn't do prison time, but rather gets put on probation with any violation resulting in a long sentence.

  • Lessons learned (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alvinrod (889928) on Friday April 30, 2010 @05:08PM (#32049728)
    If you're going to do this, at least become a telecom company first. When they pull this kind of shit, they get a pat on the back.
  • by pwnies (1034518) <j@jjcm.org> on Friday April 30, 2010 @05:16PM (#32049870) Homepage Journal
    Things like this make me sad. Not just because I feel bad for the person, but also because frankly I don't want my taxes spent on keeping this man imprisoned for up to twenty years. Cost of imprisonment is on average 22,650 per year [usdoj.gov], at 20 years that's $453,000. In my opinion it's not worth that much to keep a man behind bars for guessing a password.
    • by Martz (861209)

      As per QI:

      "1% of American adults are in prison (2.3m people)

      No society in history has imprisoned more of it's citizens than the United States of America

      1 in 30 men aged 20-34 are in prison
      1 in 9 black males are in prison
      There are more 17 year old black people in prison than in college.

      Prison labour produces 100% all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet proof vests, id tags, and other items of uniform

      93% of domestic produced paints, 36% of home appliances and 21% of office furniture. This allows the US

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2010 @05:56PM (#32050388)

      it's not worth that much to keep a man behind bars for guessing a password.

      Up to one year for guessing a password. 20 years for lying about it.

    • by fermion (181285)
      This is just another example of certain entitled people abusing the court system because the cannot take care of themselves. Here is a case of incompetent person asking the taxpayers to pay for consequences that should have never been necessary in the first place. For instance, would a jury really convict a person for twenty years if they stole a laptop left in a public location? Well, we will see what the Apple iPhone situation results in.

      I see this most particularly in the war on drugs. Since Nixon

    • by Graff (532189) on Friday April 30, 2010 @06:22PM (#32050652)

      ...I don't want my taxes spent on keeping this man imprisoned for up to twenty years. Cost of imprisonment is on average 22,650 per year, at 20 years that's $453,000. In my opinion it's not worth that much to keep a man behind bars for guessing a password.

      He won't get anything near 20 years. In a case like this he'll get almost no time in a minimal security facility, then he'll be put on probation for a number of years and he might also have to do community service or similar. Total cost to the taxpayer will be minimal, the trial itself will probably cost more than the actual imprisonment.

      That being said, you NEED to have the threat of 20 years so that there's a possible consequence to your actions. If you break into someone's e-mail there should be penalties and just the possibility of 20 years behind bars is enough to keep most people from trying this sort of thing. You also need it for repeat offenders so that you can punish them properly. This doesn't mean you always need to give the maximum, that's why it's a maximum and not a set amount.

  • by 200_success (623160) on Friday April 30, 2010 @05:26PM (#32050012)

    From the article:

    A sentencing date will not be set until prosecutors decide whether they will retry kernel on the deadlocked charge, according to this report.

    You can't retry a deadlocked kernel. The only way out is a hard reset.

  • are upheld in Court. Personal email really IS private, and people should be held accountable if they cross the line. Jail time sounds a bit extreme, given the youthful age of the accused, but I'm glad the legal precedents are being followed correctly.

    • You can't talk like that here. Rational, intelligent discourse isn't allowed on the internet. Turn in your /. UID and your geek card at the nearest ISP.

      In all seriousness, I agree. It's great to see personal communications being held as personal. It's right in line with my understanding of the founders intent. However, I'd also like to see the laws changed so that government personnel can't hide behind private mail for official "off the record" business.
  • Somehow, I missed the original story. Must have been on travels at the time. Would someone help me with these basic questions? (I can't help being interested in the trivia. I love Sarah Palin stories. US politics would be so dull without her...)

    - How did he hack the account? Guess the password? Do we know what the password was?

    - Were funny email bits published on the net? Are they still available somewhere?

    - How did the guy actually get caught?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by neurovish (315867)

      Somehow, I missed the original story. Must have been on travels at the time. Would someone help me with these basic questions? (I can't help being interested in the trivia. I love Sarah Palin stories. US politics would be so dull without her...)

      - How did he hack the account? Guess the password? Do we know what the password was?

      - Were funny email bits published on the net? Are they still available somewhere?

      - How did the guy actually get caught?

      -Guessed the password (or the password reset questions, forget which)
      -Posted screenshots of the inbox, I do not recall any funny bits
      -Posted to 4chan.

      ...that's how I recall it happening at least, ymmv

  • While I think he should be punished, online account hacking happens all the time (probably hundreds or thousands of times per day).
    And even with moderately higher profile hacking, not one normally gets charged.

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