back to article Palin email hacker gets 366 days in custody

The former Tennessee college student convicted of hacking into Sarah Palin's Yahoo Mail account was sentenced on Friday to 366 days in either federal prison or a halfway house. David Kernell smiled as the sentence was delivered in US District Court in Knoxville, according to news reports. He faced a maximum of 20 years in …


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  1. Mark Berry
    Paris Hilton

    Ok, good, the law being observed....

    Will Palin, who was using an email account outside of the official channel, now face action for that?

    Or what about her obstruction regarding access under the freedom of info thing they have, where her office was attempting to charge extortionate amounts for said info?

    Ah, never mind, I think I know the answer.......

    Paris, well, I'm sure she is familiar with the sensation of being bent over......

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Am I the only one

    to think that the only reason HE got procecuted is because he targeted a politician? The rest of the population would have had zero support from the authorities if something like that happened to them.

    Welcome to the 2 tier justice system

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Indeed. He's been made an example of.

      There would have been nothing of interest in her Yahoo email, certainly nothing work related. So no sensitive information.

  3. alain williams Silver badge

    Would he have got as long if it wasnt Palin ?

    I wonder how long he would have got if the account had been an ordinary person ?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a disgrace

    To sentence this guy to prison is an absolute disgrace--if it were any ordinary person's email account, nothing would have ever happened to him. This kind of unbalanced "justice" makes me hate America, and I'm saying that as an American. Land of the Free? Bullshit. Fuck America, fuck the judge, and fuck the jury of uneducated twats that convicted him.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Personally, I think he got off light, and if it were up to me, he'd never see the light of day for a minimum of 5 years.


      I don't give a crap about political affiliation; democrats, republicans, liberals or conservatives, in the States, if they hold office, they're douchebags and nothing separates them from their "opponents".

      The fact is he illegally accessed information that belonged to someone who COULD have become a very powerful person.

      Conversely, Mrs. Palin should have smart enough to realize that you put bogus information in the password reset forms.


      1. Matthew Anderson


        Of course you would think like that, and no doubt every speeding motorist (by law of averages you too most likely) should be banged up for attempted murder.

        The fact is it was a stupid juvenile prank and he is a young guy. A big chunk out of his life.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          enough moral

          Young educated guy AND old enough to know right from wrong. What he did was wrong.

    2. Tom 13

      No, this sentence was the minimum necessary.

      He knowingly targeted a prominent US politician BECAUSE he figured he could argue it was a prank and get support from lots of wankers who ought to know better. If it was me he'd be doing the full 20 just because of that.

      There are OTHER legal means of going after Palin if she was using the account for official government work.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...and mental health treatment

    Good to see another hacker punished for their crimes. This troubled lad will get mental health treatment in addition to a prison stay for a year. Being in denial didn't work for this clown and it won't work for anyone else in a court of law. It's time the fools of the world get in touch with reality.

  6. E 2

    The hacker guy did the wrong thing.

    If the hacker had figured out a way to change Sarah Palin from being a jumped up grade school glee club leader into being a thoughtful and reasoned politician *then* he would have done the USA and the world a great service.

    Also, @AC 20:14GMT: The alternative to jury trials and legal codes is mob justice. Nobody benefits from that.

  7. Zippy the Pinhead

    quit crying for this pinhead!

    I don't care who's email account he hacked.. he knowingly hacked into the email of a person he did not know (1st crime) then he figured he was gonna get busted so he attempted a cover up (2nd crime) Both are felonies and federal offenses!

    I hold him in almost as low a regard as the script kiddies who write viruses.

    Go to jail - go directly to jail - do not pass GO - do not collect $200.

    1. Daniel B.
      Thumb Down

      O RLY?

      I expect a ton of bullies and snot-nosed kids who hack into their schoolmates' emails to serve 366 days in federal prison, by your logic.

      Oh, did you install a keylogger to check your kid's email, because you want to know who he's been talking to? FEDERAL CRIME! GO TO JAIL!

      What you fail to realize is that the only reason this kid's getting hard prison time is because it was Palin. I doubt that you'll get the same treatment if someone breaks into your e-mail. Probably Yahoo will tell you "geeze, too bad, but it's a free service!" and that's all you'll get.

      Finally, there was no work-related sensitive information ... if there had been something like that, it would be Palin's crime to use Yahoo for official stuff.

    2. The Fuzzy Wotnot


      I agree with you, he did commit crimes, he did do something wrong, then compounded it by trying to cover it up. However....

      Why the prison time? I had one of my online accounts broken into once, just a forum account, I complained and I simply got told well not much we can do at the moment. If you're really bothered about it, then you can write in and request your details be removed and we can recreate it, but other than that not much we can do.

      Maybe I should have written in? Perhaps I would have been able to waste hours of police time and shedloads of public taxes on finding the knob that had nothing better to do other than collect useless forum accounts. After spending £500,000 on it they might have given the person 6-9 months inside!

      Oh what was I thinking! I am a working caste nobody, I have no say. I am simply factory floor fodder to be used and abused by those with wealth and power. I don't get access to the services the privleged and wealthy like Mrs Palin get do I? Sorry I forgot, I thought we lived in a democracy for a moment, *faceslap*!

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon


        "I am a working caste nobody, I have no say"

        At least you have a voice.

        Democracy died some time ago btw. The rest of us are getting used to it, but I realise it's a bit of a shocker at first.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    I've said it before

    and I'll say it again. I hope they release a rapist or murderer early to house this guy, cause he's the obvious threat...

    Justice Fail...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AC and "Mental Health Treatment" vs AC and "What a Disgrace"

    ...and he will surely need 'treatment" after being buggered from behind on a daily basis while stuck in prison for this so called crime. He does not deserve the penalty he got, much less the attention.

    I agree with "What a Disgrace" especially the "uneducated twats" comment.

    What ever happened to the punishment fitting the crime? More and more, bullying on social networks is far more serious and does not result in criminal sentencing even though the crime often results in physical harm being done to the victim.

    This kid WILL be scarred for life (no pun intended), banned from most employment, and probably end up getting a criminal education.

    How can anyone with half a brain think this guy is a "hacker" when he isn't even a "script kiddie"?

    He guessed her password, plain and simple. I believe there should have had to be proof of malicious intent to get the sentence he did. Seems like it was just a lucky lark to me.

    Under the heading of "uneducated twats", if Palin had been elected, what do you think the password would have been on the "Nuclear Football"?

    You guessed it, same as her Yahoo account.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Toss away the key

    First off; I have no love for Palin; I think she's the most dangerous thing to happen to this country in a long time.

    That said, you can't let people break the law in an attempt to influence an election; regardless of which side they're on. We're not talking impact to only Palin, we're talking impact to everybody who supports her (god help them).

    The judge is right to send a message to the dirty tricks crowd that their @ss is on the line. There is little difference between what this guy did and what the Watergate burglars were doing.

  11. Fran Rogers

    Legal precedent be damned, he attacked our dear Sarah!

    What an awful decision. This kid didn't break into any computer systems unauthorized - Yahoo's servers are public.

    Clearly he did break Yahoo's terms of service for accessing those servers. But last year, in the case United States v. Lori Drew, Drew was acquitted of all charges after being charged with basically the same thing for breaking MySpace's terms of service while driving a teenage girl half her age to suicide. But of course, there's no need to follow legal precedent when Sarah Palin is the aggrieved party.

    1. Anonymous John


      He hacked Sarah Bee's email account too? 366 days is not enough!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No wonder everyone is tired of the government there...

    So he was given a (rightfully) light sentence for a minor crime, but a much larger sentence for trying to hide evidence of that crime? This is only happening because Palin is a public figure and they want to set an example of him. They would not do this if someone broke into my email account. It's not like he even did anything harmful! he guessed a password and deleted some files in an unimportant web email account?

    1. Andus McCoatover


      Grief, I regularly delete my cache, defragment and run file shredder to clean up my XP lappie, because I often lend that machine to other students of my (adult) language class, who don't have a machine for their 'etäpäivä' - i.e, work-from-home days. Many are 'refugees' from Iraq, Somalia, etc., and don't know how to 'clean up' after themselves (online banking, etc). Cache full of bloody facebook stuff.

      Can I be accused of destroying evidence??? Without knowing it, I might have lent it (and my 3G dongle) to an Al-Queda 'sleeper'.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon


        "Without knowing it, I might have lent it (and my 3G dongle) to an Al-Queda 'sleeper'."

        You know that could actually be the case.

        Bwah hahahahahahahaa-aaaaa....

  13. Eric Hood

    Crime and punishment

    I would argue the punishment is not for guessing the email password and accessing the account but for posting the contents elsewhere then trying to hide evidence of doing so.

    Had the fellow looked at the account and said nothing we would still be ignorant of his actions.

    Therefore his punishment is reasonable.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old sayings, updated.

    A conservative internet user is just a liberal internet user who's just had his account hacked into.

  15. Curtis

    typical liberals

    I see the typical "Liberal" response - "If the victim hadn't been Sarah Palin he wouldn't have been charged". This crime was a little more than what El Reg has reported, and had some rather far-reaching consequences.

    1), Ms Palin, as a Vice-Presidential Candidate, was the recipient of Secret Service protection at the time of the incident.

    2) The crime was admitted by the defendant to be politically motivated. His father is a State Representative of the opposite party (hence why he was not put in jail for the 20 years the crime he was convicted of merited).

    3) The defendant knowingly destroyed evidence after he shared what he learned with the ever loving script kiddies of 4chan.

    Had someone not as politically connected as this kid done the exact same thing, he would have had the book thrown at him. And, if such a thing were done aimed in the other direction, there is a good chance that he never would have made it to trial (as he would have assumed ambient room temperature)

  16. Winkypop Silver badge

    and in other news....

    ...Sarah Palin has been found guilty of crimes against intelligence and has been sentenced to....

    1. Zippy the Pinhead

      @ winkypop

      reading the comments of uneducated liberal ID10TS on The Reg.

  17. Apocalypse Later

    I love it when they whine

    This story isn't about a boyish prank, but an attempt to derail a presidential campaign. Not much actually came of it, but he still got off lightly.

    Sarah Palin is plenty smart. Whether she runs or not in 2012, Barry will be out. If she runs, she'll beat him. If she doesn't run, the Democrats won't even nominate him. They know he can't beat any other Republican, but they think he has a chance against her. Now THAT'S dumb.

  18. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    They'd have been more lenient on him

    if he hadn't defragmented his hard drive and cleared out his temporary file folder...

  19. A B 3

    Drunks and speeders..

    Drunk and speeding drivers who kill people get less time than that. One rule for us and one rule for them, nuff said.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's time for change

    ...because drunks, addicts and people playing with their electronic toys while driving, should also see a long time in prison for causing an accident, injuries or death.

    Locking up hackers is a good start. Now lets get all of the scum off the streets and in prisons where they belong.

  21. Cucumber C Face

    More thought crime

    We confiscated your PC but found no presidental candidate e-mails, files which might be encrypted or Tony the Tiger mpgs.

    However we might have found these if you hadn't run routine maintenance on your PC.

    Remember not to pick up the soap sonny.

  22. raivn

    Oh man

    should have just claimed his computer was infected by a virus and someone else did it through his machine.

    And seriously, deleted his internet history to cover evidence? nice one.

  23. g00p
    Paris Hilton



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