back to article Hack suspect challenges privacy of Palin emails

Defence lawyers in the Sarah Palin webmail account hack case intend to claim the Alaskan governor's emails were a matter of public record and therefore enjoyed no expectation of privacy. The novel legal tactic is designed to reduce the seriousness of the charges against their client, David Kernell. Citing an Alaskan court's …

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Gold badge

This gives some more ideas..

. as it is indeed a fact that that email address was used for official business (indicated by the "gov", and thus not an accident) there are all sorts of ugly questions that Palin may face.

Not using an official system, not properly securing official communication etc etc.

IANAL, but this could get quite entertaining to the point where some people might wish it go away rather than go after the hacker.

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Anonymous Coward

Damnit..

I saw this "hack" happen.

I wish I was quick enough to change the password so I could have copied all the emails out.

Unfortunately some doo gooder changed the password and didn't release any emails.

IIRC you can even export emails as a CSV file. I have no idea why the "hacker" didn't do that before giving the password to the masses.

I bet there was gold in them there emails.

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Anonymous Coward

Journalism

I note that the text of the Wired article referenced does NOT mention that the defendant was "the 20 year-old student son of a Tennessee DEMOCRAT politician, " (emphasis mine) although you say that " Wired reports." So this is not only information attributed to Wired that was added by the Reg author, it also uses the snarky, inaccurate term "Democrat" favored by some Republicans when "Democratic" is the correct term.

Is this inaccurate, juvenile and partisan by intent or ignorance?

Clever is good. This is not clever. Or accurate.

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Next he'll claim to have Asberger's Syndrome

The next defense step will be to claim that David Kernell is autistic.

This claim that the contents of the Yahoo! account were not private is simply a diversion. The facts are that he hacked into a private email account and he disseminated the password for that account that he had reset. Both of those actions are crimes.

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Flame

It does not matter who the hacker or victim was - gaining unauthorized access is still a crime.

"A hacker obtained access to ... Yahoo email account ... last September, after resetting its password using Yahoo's password resetting information ... Screenshots taken from the account were posted onto the ... image board by a user called ... who informed denizens that the password had been changed to ... Investigators traced these original posts back to machines used by ... leading to computer hacking and later identity theft and fraud charges."

It does not matter who the target or the hacker is - if this happened to anyone, the hacker should be prosecuted.

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Thumb Down

interesting.

So now that he's essentially a public figure, I can simply pilfer through his postal mail "simply out of curiosity"? Unless she gave him written consent to access her account, he's guilty, based upon what I know of the law.

Furthermore, don't care if it's Palin, Obama or any other political hack; right is right and wrong is wrong and he's clearly in the wrong

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Donkey

All this whining and wriggling will make good practice for his prison initiation.

If a democrat had had his account hacked by the son of a republican, the media would be up in arms, but as it's a dem in the dock, "just boyish high spirits".

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Expectation of privacy?

If postal mail was as secure as email, all letters would be sent as 8x10 pages out in the open (not in envelopes), and transferred to the recipients via bucket brigade through thousands of independent hands (not the postal service). Regardless of the legal status of email, anyone who thinks email from a *practical* standpoint provides any expectation of privacy has no idea how it works. Sending email is only slightly less public than posting it on your blog.

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Pirate

could be a winning strategy

I'm not so sure whether claiming the emails themselves should be automatically be public is going to get far when Palin's claim is/was that no official business was being done with the account, though the "gov" in the email address belies that. The defence could also make the claim that since the information protecting the account was also in the public domain, it meant that there was no effective block on anyone reading it or that, in other words, though with a slightly different meaning, it was effectively public.

If someone set up a web/email account with the username "cypherpunks", and the same password, they can't complain when someone else logs in using those credentials. It's not quite the same thing here, but it's damned close.

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The stuipidity of the victim is no exscue for the crime.

Its sad really. This 20 year old though of this as more of a prank. Had he done this to anyone else ... it would have been treated as a prank. The fact that it was a very unsophisticated, casual attempt also gives the appearance of it being less serious. The victim also was being a complete idiot using yahoo for official business, employing a easily guessed password.

Unfortunately despite all that ... its still a crime. Hopefully he gets a light sentence.

This would have been a lot funnier had it been done by a 13 year old.

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Happy

They setting the bar really low for Septic lawyers nowadays?

It took all of a minute to think up these counters, and I bet the prosecution will do better when the judge stops laughing!

"He’s saying this particular email was not private or personal because of who she is and because it wasn’t intimate communication." Not so. He had access to all her emails, not all were goverment related, in fact the idiot found precious little to even suggest Palin was using the account improperly (and yet the moron still posted his "findings" in an easily traceable manner - what a maroon!). Since he didn't know which emails were government related, he had to read them all. She sent her personal emails expecting them to be private, otherwise why would she address them to only certain senders, and why would she have a password on her account. He had to read through her private emails to find anything, therefore he read stuff she had a proper expectation of privacy, and he must have known they were private, regardless of whether other emails happened to have any government related content.

""He’s also saying that what was in the e-mails would ultimately have been revealed [under litigation], therefore she had no expectation of privacy in it,...." Irrelevant. When she sent them, she did not expect them to be read by anyone other than the person she addressed them to, and she did not send them expecting them to be later used in litigation. Therefore saying they are now being used in litigation is after the fact. Also, the hacker did not intend them to be used in this particular litigation (his own trial), but in litigation against Palin. It also does not cover the non-government related emails the idiot read, to which she will have expected full privacy.

"Photos that Kernell allegedly obtained after hacking into Palin's email account aren't private either, because the former Republican vice-president candidate and her family were participants in innumerable photo-ops, defence lawyers further argued." Junk! The public photos and the private ones are different incidents. Therefore different expectations of privacy apply. These photos were not in the public domain until the "hacker" made false claims and gained illegal access to them, then knowingly posted them when he must have known the real owner would not want them distributed.

If this is the best the defence lawyer can do the Palin team will just send a junior to court!

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Stop

Stop it!

First, this wasn't a 'hack' the kid just circumvented the password reset page on Yahoo! mail (using info from public sources) to access. All parties are to blame: The kid for posting the e-mail account so publicly, Sarah for using a private e-mail address for Government business (Something that gets you a seat in front of congress and a likely dismissal), and Yahoo for allowing something like this to happen. Everyone should be investigated in this case

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Paris Hilton

They setting the bar really low for Septic lawyers nowadays, too

I'd have thought a Republican with the possibility of getting to be second in command to the man going to be responsible for reading all the email and pwned other stuff including illicit undersea cable re-jointed international communications around the middle east recently; fairly recently that is, would know that the security of any electronic communications was non existent.

Unless it was a neo-Alaskan with the word sucker stamped on it. If it was printed in the headlines of every national US newspaper, such a dummy would not know of that.

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Flame

@ Stop it

Excuse me, "all parties are wrong"? While I'm not an ardent supporter of Mrs. Palin, I really don't think she broke any laws in this particular case. Furthermore, it doesn't matter how the kid got into her email account, he willingly did it even though it probably violated the terms and conditions of Yahoo, it violates her privacy as a citizen and he did it with the intent of redistributing information that he had no legal right to access.

Some people, like myself, view violations privacy in almost the same light as murder or rape, so using your logic you would seriously argue that a murder or rape victim were equally responsible in a crime committed against them by someone they've never met?

Once again, regardless of any political philosophy, I could care less who the victim was, the criminal needs to be punished to the fullest extent that the law will allow. Maybe that's the problem with America, we've allowed our country to become soft on crime.

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Alert

Who is the Palin woman...

....and why is she still in the news?

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Happy

win/win

I can't see anything coming of this that wouldn't be good.

He got caught and goes to prison - good.

He got caught and somehow gets away with it anyway - good.

Crimes by Palin are uncovered in the process - hilarious.

As far as I can see there is no possible bad outcome. It's not like anyone was raped.

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