One Billion Records = Eight Years in Jail

Silicon reports that A bulk emailer who looted more than a billion records containing personal information from a data warehouse has been sentenced to eight years in prison in the United States.

Scott Levine, 46, was sentenced by a federal judge in Little Rock, Arkansas, after being found guilty of breaking into Acxiom's servers and downloading gigabytes of data in what the US Justice Department describes as one of the largest data heists to date. Acxiom says it operates the world's largest repository of consumer data, and counts major banks, credit card companies and the US government among its customers.

In August 2005, a jury convicted Levine, a former chief executive of a bulk email company called Snipermail.com, of 120 counts of unauthorised access to a computer connected to the internet. According to the US government, however, there is no evidence Levine used the data for identity fraud.

Prosecutors had asked for a longer sentence but expressed satisfaction with an eight-year prison stay.

When it was in operation, Snipermail.com drew fire from anti-spam advocates for falsely claiming to operate only "opt-in" lists. The company's now-defunct domain shows up on the Register of Known Spam Operations compiled by the Spamhaus Project, and dozens of sightings of spam from Snipermail.com appear on Usenet's news.admin.net-abuse.sightings discussion group.

Acxiom has said that after the 2003 intrusion, it improved its intrusion detection, vulnerability scanning and encryption systems.