Federal grand jury hears testimony in Palin hacker case -- but no indictment yet

Any cause for concern? Eh, not really. Our hero left a trail of truth-to-power virtual breadcrumbs to his door.

The hunt for the hacker Latest News about hacker who broke into Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s personal e-mail account is shaping up to be a remarkably simple investigation, by the standards of major cybersecurity whodunits…

During the break-in, the hacker used an Internet address that traced to David Kernell’s apartment complex in Knoxville. The FBI obtained logs Saturday establishing the connection from Gabriel Ramuglia of Athens, Ga., who operates an Internet anonymity service used by the hacker…

Experts said the hacker apparently left an easy trail for investigators.

“He might as well have taken a picture of his house and uploaded it,” said Ken Pfeil, an Internet security expert. “He should have just set up a big beacon that said, ‘Here’s my house,’ or confessed. If they can’t catch this guy based on all the information posted on the Web then all bets are off.”

I can only assume the indictment hasn’t come down yet because the prosecution hasn’t finished presenting evidence. I am a little worried about this, though. Apparently, the DOJ frowns upon prosecuting people who hack into e-mail accounts and read only already-opened e-mail; according to the statutory definition of “electronic storage,” an e-mail’s only in “storage” when it’s unopened and still waiting to be read. A Ninth Circuit decision broadened that to include all e-mail on the theory that saved e-mails are in “backup storage,” but the DOJ for the moment sees no distinction for purposes of the statute between communications that have already been read and any old file you might store on a network. Exit question: Anyone think they might be revisiting their approach now that people are breaking into the e-mail accounts of vice-presidential candidates? Or rather, anyone think they haven’t already, given that the DOJ’s the one seeking an indictment here?

Jazz Shaw Jun 22, 2021 6:01 PM ET