Is former Sacramento media employee Matthew Keys a victim of overzealous, misguided cybercrime prosecution?

Jay Leiderman
By: Jay Leiderman
November 04 2016

His trial here in Sacramento in federal court to wrap up soon

This article was published in 2014 and discusses the political ramifications of the heavy-handed crackdown on cybercrime, and how prosecutors fail to exercise reasonable discretion in charging these cases.  Jay Leiderman, who represents Matthew Keys, believes the case never should have ended up in a criminal court.

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This article was published on . <= click here for the full article

The trial of former KTXL Fox40 Web producer Matthew Keys in Sacramento federal court appears to be approaching its anticlimax.

The 27-year-old blogger and journalist is accused of helping hackers break into the Los Angeles Times website, where they changed the headline of a story. Keys has even confessed to the substance of the crime, though it hardly qualifies as misdemeanor vandalism. So why make a federal case out of it? Couldn’t Department of Justice resources be better directed elsewhere?

It’s a question of priorities, according toSurviving Cyberwar author Richard Stiennon. “For those in justice, your career path is to get a whole bunch of successful prosecutions and get noticed,” Stiennon says. “So you’re going to go after the low-hanging fruit.”

Matthew Keys
The Matthew Keys case received massive media coverage, including the “Gray Lady” – The New York Times

“The days of ’Let’s haul this kid in front of the judge, scare him and send him home with a warning’ are long since gone,” says attorney Jay Leiderman, who represents Keys. “Prosecutorial discretion is a great thing if it’s exercised, but it doesn’t happen in any meaningful way these days, because prosecutions are so politicized.”

Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys gives an impromptu press conference outside the Federal Courthouse in Sacramento. He is flanked by his lawyers Tor Ekeland and Jay Leiderman

“Any case that has the word ’cyber’ in it brings headlines, because it’s interesting. There’s a degree to which careers are made this way,” says Leiderman. “’Cyber prosecutor blah-blah-blah.’ Nobody reads the ’blah-blah-blah.’ They just go, ’They caught a cybercriminal. Fantastic.’”

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