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Student Facebook hacker gets eight months

A software development student in the U.K. who hacked into Facebook via an employee's account is jailed after being found guilty of stealing intellectual property.

Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It's normally parents who tell you they're doing something unpleasant for your own good.

However, this was also the explanation offered by 26-year-old Glenn Mangham, who was yesterday given eight months of incarceration for hacking into Facebook's inner sanctum.

The Guardian records Mangham's words to the court: "It was to identify vulnerabilities in the system so I could compile a report that I could then bundle over to Facebook and show them what was wrong with their system."

I know there are at least 14 altruistic people in the world. This court, though, seems to have decided that Mangham, a software development student, wasn't one of them.

Indeed, the proceedings dwelled a little on what might have been his motivation for using a Facebook employee's account to burrow into the company's secrets.

Mangham's lawyer suggested that his client was really a sort of Harrison Ford or Nicolas Cage: "He saw this as a challenge. This is someone who in previous times would have thrown everything aside to seek the source of the Nile."

Oddly, even the judge decided that Mangham had not done this for financial gain, nor even to pass the information he had gleaned to dangerous entities like the KGB or Google.

And yet he was tossed into jail for eight months--principally, it seems, because he entered the systems of an important company.

The judge actually declared: "You accessed the very heart of the system of an international business of massive size, so this was not just fiddling about in the business records of some tiny business of no great importance."

Some might conclude, therefore, that British justice is rather more inclined to protect the 1 percent and their businesses, rather than the 99 percent.

Such a conclusion might cause certain upper lips to stiffen with anger, given this apparent indifference to justice for all.

Still, Mangham clearly knows a thing or two about Facebook. Perhaps, once his time inside is done, he might receive a lunch invitation or two--just to, you know, see if he can offer a little background.

Perhaps, at least, he might visit a bier keller with Austrian law student Max Schrems, who is enjoying a very noble and interesting battle to help people get information from Facebook--their own.