Anti-abortion hacker jailed
17 April 2012
by James Daniels
A hacker from the West Midlands has been jailed for 32 months for hacking into the website of the UK’s largest abortion provider, and stealing the records of 10,000 women.
The attack was carried out last month against the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) by James Jeffery, a member of the notorious hacking collective Anonymous. The BPAS provides a number of services to pregnant women, including advice about termination – services that Jeffery was unhappy with.
Described as a “whiz-kid” in court, he had threatened on Twitter to publically release the details of women who had used the BPAS’s services, but he did not do so prior to his arrest.
Jeffery, a former software engineer, decided to attack the BPAS site after two women he knew decided to have terminations. According to lawyer Shaun Wallace, Jeffery was not strictly completely anti-abortion.
As well as taking the records, Jeffery left an Anonymous logo on the site, along with an anti-abortion message. "Who gave you the right to murder an unborn child and profit from that murder?” The message had apparently been cut and pasted from Google.
Jeffery was caught and arrested last month by the Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU), a specialist unit of the London Metropolitan Police, which was formed in 2008 to combat serious online criminal activity, such as hacking, virus distribution and online fraud.
When sentencing, Judge Michael Gledhill QC commented on the severity of what Jeffery had done, and spoke of the “terrible consequences” that would have resulted from what he intended to do. "You stole the records of approximately 10,000 women. 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.”
Judge Gledhill added that Jeffery’s sentence was designed to send a “clear message of deterrence” to any would-be hackers, as well as punishing him.
BPAS chief executive Ann Furedi expressed her gratitude for the quick work of the police. "This was one of the most extreme examples of anti-abortion activity we have seen.”