“Operation Hackerazzi” organizer Christopher Chaney serving time for wiretapping


Today’s technology can allow uninvited guests, April 2013; photo credit MKHyde

Between the time frame of November 2010 and October 2011, there was a surge in the amount of celebrity private business, such as photographs and personal emails, hitting the Internet.  Known as “Operation Hackerazzi” celebrities such as Mila Kunis, Christina Aguilera, and most notably Scarlett Johansson, were victims to this crime.  Johansson was not pleased when nude photos appeared online and pursued legal action instantly.  Eventually, Christopher Chaney of Jacksonville, Fla., was proven to be behind the chaos.  Chaney was hacking over 50 entertainment professionals’ information daily, while using various aliases and accessing address books from those he had already hacked into, to retrieve information on others.  Once apprehended, Chaney pleaded guilty to several charges, which included accessing protected computers without authorization and wiretapping.  Chaney was ordered to pay $66,179.46 to Johansson; $150,000 to all his other victims; and was ordered to serve 71 months in prison.  Chaney could have potentially served 60 years based on the full range of charges.

Chaney explained this situation as something that started as “curiosity” and “turned to just being addictive.”  Although apologizing for his actions and invasions, assistant U.S. attorneys in the case, Lisa Feldman and Wesley Hsu, described Chaney as “brazenly unrepentant” due to the fact that Chaney continued his hacking even after being caught.  After the FBI had come into his home and confiscated his computer, Chaney invaded several more celebrities private files.  Richard Boyles, aspiring blogger and self-proclaimed entertainment guru, said, “Chaney should have been completely monitored until it was deemed that he was either guilty or not guilty.”  Boyles calls the actions of Chaney “deplorable, intrusive and opportunistic in regards to his attempt to capitalize on this situation.”

As far as the punishment for Chaney, there have been differing views.  Boyles offers his sentiments as saying, “As for the time to serve, rehabilitation would have been more suitable versus locking him away for an extended amount of time.  As for monetarily, the amounts seem justified and sufficient.”  Assistant U.S. attorney Feldman argued for every bit of the 71-month sentencing, referencing again the repeat of Chaney’s actions even after being caught.

Christopher Chaney serving time for hacking private information, April 2013; photo credit: MKHyde

Christopher Chaney serving time for hacking private information, April 2013; photo credit: MKHyde