A journalist convicted of hacking was ordered Thursday to begin serving his two-year prison sentence. Matthew Keys was scheduled to begin serving his term last month, but a federal appeals court stayed his custody to determine whether he should remain free from the federal prison camp in Atwater, California pending an appeal of his federal conviction under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
After reviewing the conviction for a month, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals announced that there is nothing novel about his conviction and that he is likely to lose on appeal. Therefore, the court ruled (PDF), he should begin serving his time even while his appeal is pending. The court wrote:
Appellant has not shown that the appeal raises a “substantial question” of law or fact that is “fairly debatable,” and that “if that substantial question is determined favorably to defendant on appeal, that decision is likely to result in reversal or an order for a new trial of all counts on which imprisonment has been imposed,” or a sentence that does not include a term of imprisonment, or a reduced sentence to a term of imprisonment less than the total of the time already served plus the expected duration of the appeal process.
Keys maintains that he did not expose login information that led to the 40-minute alteration of a Los Angeles Times headline in 2010 when he worked for a local California television station, KTXL Fox 40 in Sacramento, which was owned by the newspaper’s parent company, Tronc. Authorities said he published Tronc login credentials in a hacker forum and told forum readers to go “fuck some shit up.” On appeal, Keys maintained that there was no damage done because the defaced article was restored from a backup, and therefore the CFAA was misapplied.