27-year-old James Jeffery has been sentenced to two years and eight months in jail for hacking into the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), Britain's largest abortion provider. Last month, Jeffery admitted he defaced the website and stole around 10,000 database records containing personal details (names, user names, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers). His motivation was a disagreement with his sister's choice to abort her pregnancy.
Jeffery pleaded guilty to two charges under the Computer Misuse Act. Defense lawyer Shaun Wallace said Jeffery regretted his actions. He wrote an apology to BPAS, and even suggested ways it could improve its security infrastructure.
Judge Michael Gledhill said there could have been "terrible consequences" if Jeffery had published the women's details. "Many of them were vulnerable women, vulnerable simply because they had had a termination or because of their youth or because their family did not know about their situation," the judge said in a statement according to CBS News.
No medical information about BPAS' clients was compromised. Instead, Jeffery obtained personal information of women who registered on the site. Jeffery never got a chance to release the records he stole from BPAS because he was arrested by the Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) in his home, after being tracked down through his Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Jeffery, who claimed to be a member of the hacktivist group Anonymous, boasted about his crime on Twitter, under the handle PabloEscobarSec. He wrote the following message on the BPAS website, below the Anonymous logo he placed there (screenshot):
An unborn child does not have an opinion, a choice or any rights. Who gave you the right to murder that unborn child and profit from that murder? “The product, abortion, is skilfully marketed and sold to women at the crisis time in her life. She buys the product, and wants to return it for a refund. But it’s too late.” \\\ Hacked by PabloEscboar, Anonymous ///
While working with Anonymous, he has also hacked other websites in the past, including those of the FBI, the CIA, West Midlands police, the Houses of Parliament, the U.S. navy, Arizona police, and Spanish police. In this case, Jeffery worked alone, despite the fact he posted the Anonymous logo on the BPAS website.
BPAS, which sees about 55,000 women a year in its 40 clinics and other centers across the U.K., provides females with information and a forum to enquire about abortion, contraception, sexually-transmitted infection testing, sterilisation, and other fertility-related matters. The organization's stated purpose is to support "reproductive choice by advocating and providing high quality, affordable services to prevent or end unwanted pregnancies with contraception or by abortion."
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