August 6, 2008

Teen on Bebo Hacking Charge

By SHARPE, Marty

A YOUNG woman is facing a criminal charge for allegedly hacking into a schoolgirl's Bebo page -- an offence punishable by a maximum of seven years in jail.

Police say the prosecution serves as a warning to others who may not realise that tampering with an Internet social networking page carries a stiff penalty.

A woman, 19, will appear in Hastings District Court next month, charged under the Crimes Act.

The prosecution comes after Rachel Boyte, 16, tried to log on to her Bebo and Hotmail pages and was denied access.

"I went to sign into the accounts and they said the password had been changed.

"I had an idea who had done it, but I don't know exactly how they did it," she said.

"It was quite a big deal to me. I lost all my e-mails and quite a lot of private stuff on the Bebo page.

"If it happens to anyone they should let the police know so things can be done about it and people will be aware there are consequences.

"I think it's quite common and people won't know who did it. I know a few people who have had it happen."

Suspecting something was amiss, the Hamilton Girls High School pupil contacted police. A woman was charged after police made inquiries with the Internet service provider. Section 250 of the Crimes Act prohibits intentionally or recklessly damaging a computer system or accessing a computer without authorisation.

Police national e-crime manager Maarten Kleintjes said people who accessed others' Internet accounts often did not realise they were committing a crime.

"But ignorance is no excuse."

Mr Kleintjes said the maximum term of seven years' imprisonment for unauthorised access could be extended to 10 years in cases in which the person's actions had endangered lives.

Previous cases should "serve as a warning" that police would charge someone if they broke the law.

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