Sarah Palin's alleged email hacker pleads, "Not guilty"

In Thursday's IT Blogwatch, Richi Jennings watches Sarah Palin's alleged email nemesis be indicted, arraigned, released, and fed to the bloggers. Not to mention a new use for an old 2600 joystick...

Gregg Keizer reports:

David Kernell
David Kernell, the Tennessee college student who came under suspicion as the hacker who broke into the e-mail account of U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, has been indicted by a federal grand jury, the Department of Justice announced today.

Kernell, 20, was indicted Tuesday on one count of accessing a computer without authorization by a grand jury in Knoxville, Tenn., and has turned himself in to the FBI ... [He] is the son of Mike Kernell, a longtime Democratic state representative from Memphis.

Kim Zetter adds:

Kernell had his arraignment this morning and will be released without bond, pending a trial on December 16. He has been instructed not to have contact with Governor Palin or her family or any witnesses in the case. He also is barred from possessing a computer and can only access the internet for e-mail or for doing school work. He must obtain written permission from the court to leave the Eastern District of Tennessee, where he's been charged.

Scott McPherson tiptoes through minefields:

Good work, grand jury. Now let the federal prosecutors refuse a deal, convict him on all counts and incarcerate him for the full length of his sentence. Fine him to the $250,000 maximum.


People such as Mr. Kernell need to be made examples of, in order for cyberspace to be a safer place. Let others learn and heed.

Nicholas Deleon agrees:

Hey script kiddies, next time you steal some unsuspecting person’s password, you’d better be prepared to do five years in prison. That’s what the kid who “hacked” Sarah Palin’s Yahoo e-mail account faces.


The kid is screwed, in other words. If convicted, the kid faces five years in prison, a $250,000 and three years of “supervised release.” No Facebook for him, I’m guessing.


So, kids, let this be a warning to you: don’t try to impress your friends by reading powerful people’s e-mails. To quote Denzel Washington from Training Day, this kid is federally f***ed now.

But John Brandon doesn't:

To be honest - and this is where my opinion gets me into trouble, I know - the penalty for the break-in seems stiff. It's up to a $250,000 fine and 5 years in prison. I imagine that teenagers break into the accounts of their friends all the time, but likely would not get an indictment from the Justice Department or an FBI warrant.

Gateway Pundit offers a rare angle:

Here's a bit of irony... David's father Mike Kernell, an Obama supporter, reportedly worried about someone hacking into touch screen voting systems.

Dan Karipides watches the wheels of justice turn slow:

Kernell covered his tracks so poorly the only real question was why the arrest took so long.

As far as the election goes, I think this is a non-issue. While David Kernell is the son of state Representative Mike Kernell, who is Democrat, I doubt the affair will negatively affect Obama. The AP reports the story, and doesn't even mention David's father. (The AP doesn't even mention his name at first; they just report that a "man" was indicted.)

Janet Shan braces:

The right wing will try to link Barack Obama to this in some ridiculous and unfounded way.


I don't condone what this young man did, if he is proven guilty, but Gov. Palin should have used better judgment and not used her personal email to conduct government business. If the truth be told, this is the same lack of sound judgment that would be used if she were to become the next vice president.

JammieWearingFool happily obliges:

This story completely disappeared from the radar the last couple of weeks becasue, after all, it was only a Republican getting their mail hacked. If it were a Democrat, it would be portrayed as worse than Watergate and a grave threat to America.

Anyway, this punk ... could face five years. He'll probably get five days and a White House internship under Barack Obama.

Gerard van der Leun skips to the chase:

Hacking things is, after all, a federal crime.

Bragging about it is a stupid crime.

Bragging about it so that you actually can get tracked down and caught is a crime so stupid it requires both jail time and a mandatory drool-cup strapped on your chin.

And finally...

Buffer overflow:

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 23 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email:

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

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