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Court Drops CEO Blackmail Charge Against TalkTalk Website Hacker

Monday, January 28th, 2019 (2:45 pm) - Score 1,593
internet and uk computer law

The Crown Prosecution Service has dropped a blackmail charge against Daniel Kelley (21) from South Wales, who back in 2016 pleaded guilty to 11 offences (including blackmail, computer hacking and fraud) related to the 2015 hack of TalkTalk’s broadband ISP website.

The hack itself exposed the personal details of some 156,959 customers (here) and is often said to have cost the UK internet provider a total of around £77 million. On top of that TalkTalk was also fined £400,000 (here) because of their “failure to implement the most basic cyber security measures.” Since 2015 then there have been various arrests and a number of jail terms were handed down (here)

During the event TalkTalk’s former CEO, Dido Harding, was also subjected to several blackmail attempts as some of those involved tried and failed to extort Bitcoin (a digital currency) in exchange for the stolen data. Kelley was similarly linked with related attempts to extort 465 Bitcoin from the beleaguered boss (at the time this was said to be worth around £285K).

However in a surprise twist the CPS has today informed the BBC that they’ve dropped the blackmail charge against Kelley, who will now be sentenced on 25th February 2019 (the wheels of justice turn oh so slowly). Apparently he has been suffering from “depression” and the prosecutor, Peter Ratliff, believes it would not be within the public interest to proceed to a trial (others may disagree).

Kelley is also understood to have hacked half a dozen other organisations.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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5 Responses
  1. Avatar Mike

    Wouldn’t it be more productive to just give him a job at GCHQ?

    • Avatar davidj

      Yeah lets take a job position with our nations security where trust is needed and give it to a person that tries to extort money from people. Yeah that is smart thinking, what could possibly go wrong???

  2. Avatar James King

    Mark – with respect – deriding a mental illness diagnosis by putting the word in inverted commas and italics and the unnecessary bracketed comment at the end is well below your normally excellent level of reporting and journalism. Those of us who suffer from mental illness don’t really need reminding of the stigmas attached to it in an otherwise well reported article.

    Just saying.

    • Fair point James, although it’s also in speech marks because that’s a direct quote. But in this case I think some people may be right to question whether dropping a blackmail charge due to depression is the right way to proceed, particularly as it seems to sidestep the mental and financial stress caused to all those he targeted (directly or indirectly).

    • Avatar davidj

      I have some sympathy for him if he has actually been diagnosed with depression (none if he is just saying he is suffering from it with no medical diagnosis).

      Then again thinking about it more… Even if he has been diagnosed as having depression, why should anybody show him sympathy, or respect for his condition.

      He has no doubt caused others mental issues, including stress, anxiety, depression and probably more. Due to his actions.

      He had little respect for any mental implications his actions would have on others so why should we care what mental implications being caught and the legal system has on him?

      You see that is the problem nowadays compassion should indeed be given to those with mental illness, but at the same time I did not grow up in an entitled world where i think im the only one that is special and can do as i please with no ramifications. I grew up in a world where you treat others as you want to be treated.

      He mental illness or not will hopefully learn having compassion to your fellow mankind does not just apply to him but everyone, because he obviously did not comprehend that simplistic rule of life when he did what he did.

      Frankly i have more compassion for those which have no doubt been mentally affected by this persons actions waaaaaaay before i will have any respect for any mental problem he has. Why anyone should think he deserves compassion before the people he affected, i find highly illogical.

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