Criminal Justice

Producer Sues ISP and its Fired Employee, Saying Hack Destroyed Season of Kids' TV Series

A new lawsuit alleges a fired employee hacked into his former company’s networked computers and deliberately destroyed an entire season of a syndicated children’s TV show.

The suit (PDF posted by Courthouse News Service), filed last week in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, claims Michael Scott Jewson, a fired CyberLynk employee, accessed his former company’s data and intentionally erased it, Reuters and IDG News Service report. According to the suit, Jewson was fired from Cyberlynk, an Internet service provider, for an undisclosed reason in February 2009. The suit asserts that on March 26, one month after his firing, Jewson went on a data-wiping rampage. Jewson admitted his guilt in a plea agreement that has not yet been officially accepted by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, where CyberLynk is based, according to IDG News Service. Jewson potentially faces a maximum five-year sentence if his plea agreement is accepted.

The show’s creator, WeR1 World Network, names both Jewson and CyberLynk, in the lawsuit. The suit says that CyberLynk, which was assigned to store two years worth of work, should have done more to protect its data. Fragments from 14 episodes of Zodiac Island, a children’s series that airs on TV stations across the U.S., were lost, and reproducing or reassembling the deleted data from the series is impossible.

WeR1’s suit seeks damages for conversion and computer fraud, breach of contract and gross negligence. Though restitution is included in Jewson’s plea agreement, WeR1 maintains in the suit that “Jewson does not have the resources to pay the amount of proposed restitution.”

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