Britney Spears, Obama Twitter Hacker Caught in France

French authorities have nabbed the cybercrook who gained notoriety in June, 2009, for allegedly hacking the Twitter accounts of Britney Spears and President Barack Obama, among others. The suspect, known as "Hacker Croll," is also believed to have leaked over 300 confidential Twitter corporate files to TechCrunch, the popular tech blog.

Agence France Pressreports that "the unemployed 25-year-old, who lived with his parents," was arrested Tuesday after a several-month investigation in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Testing Twitter's Security?

In June, 2009, someone identified as "Hacker Croll" briefly made headlines for hacking the Twitter and Gmail accounts of celebrities, including the U.S. President, pop star Spears, and CNN host Rick Sanchez. In a blog post, Twitter ackowledged the attack.

"He was a young man spending time on the Internet. He acted as a result of a bet, out of the defiance of the hacker. He is the sort who likes to claim responsibility for what he has done," prosecutor Jean-Yves Coquillat tells AFP, which reports that he's known locally for "minor scams" totalling about $20,000.

Last year, TechCrunch received a cache of confidential Twitter business documents from someone who identified himself as "Hacker Croll." The tech blog, which said it was working with Twitter execs, published some of the files as well as detailed recreations of how the hacks occurred. Later, Croll suggested that his intention was not to harm Twitter but test its security, and he apologized to the company.

TechCrunch is "not planning to" cover the Croll story, Michael Arrington, the blog's founder and co-editor, told me by email Wednesday night.

Ethics of Publishing Leaks

"TechCrunch argued that it was within its legal rights to publish the information, and the law breaking had been done by the person who sent them the files," Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb writes. "Now that person is apparently headed to trial." He adds: "The ethical and perhaps legal implications of TechCrunch's decision will no doubt be discussed again due to this turn of events.

Arrington says his site is "not planning to" cover Hacker Croll's arrest: Other than retweeting CNET's coverage of the arrest, "we just didn't have anything to add."

The suspect known as Hacker Croll was released the same day he was arrested and ordered to appear in court in Clermont-Ferrand, in central France, on June 24. AFP says he could face two years in prison.
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