Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, running-mate for Senator John McCain in the upcoming 2008 presidential election, has proven to the world that no one is safe on the internet–or at least, no one’s privacy is completely safe. According to Trevor Aaronson, author of the news article on knoxnews.com “Kernell mum on allegations son hacked into Palin’s e-mail”, Palin’s private yahoo email account was breeched, and its contents were shared with bloggers all over the world-wide web. The article continues by suggesting that a democratic state representative’s son is responsible for the hack, although State Rep. Mike Kernell told the media that, “My son’s the one in question, and I can’t comment on him.”
BBC News offers more information about the email account, including the actual address(es). That’s right, Palin had not one, but two private email accounts on Yahoo: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
The article featured on BBC also mentions that the hacker group Anonymous, who has openly taken credit for the email hack also is responsible for “several online assaults against the Church of Scientology.”
But, is David Kernell, or “Anonymous” really all that guilty? I don’t think so, and neither does a large sum of the blogging community, or at least those who left comments on metafilter.com. One blogger, by the username of Optimus Chyme, acknowledged Palin’s ignorance: “…any state or federal employee doing government business over a commercial public webmail service deserves to have their email released to the public, because the only reason to use a service like Yahoo is to hide evidence of wrongdoing.”
Another blogger, rzklkng, ”find[s] it difficult that a person who just became the VP nominee – the first Republican woman nominee, no less – has so few congratulatory emails, or that ‘anonymous’ wouldn’t have hit her ‘trash’ or ‘sent’ folders…. At best, this is not a complete picture (she has at least one other address) and at worst a smokescreen to either garner sympathy or prove that there’s no treachery afoot in her email abuse.”
Despite Palin’s efforts to “destroy the evidence,” as many bloggers accuse, by deleting her private yahoo email account, a few websites were actually smart, and saved the screenshots posted earlier on Wikileaks. On one of these websites, we can confirm that Palin really wasn’t hiding much—unless you include a few family snapshots and a very large contact list.
Whether Palin, Kernell, Anonymous, or someone else is responsible for the email leak, we can all learn a valuable lesson from this. Do not put anything on the internet or in an email that you don’t want the rest of the world to find out about. Even if Palin did delete her account, Yahoo could easily bring up the records of Palin’s email account if it wanted to. Whether the hacker admits it or not, he was wrong in attacking Palin as he did, and if it was a democrat state representative’s son, shame on him for giving all democrats a bad name. Personal attacks are not the appropriate way to prevent someone from being elected into office.