College Student Hauled Off for Hacking Game Consoles

Paul Lilly

Jailbreak your game console and no one is likely to take notice. But make a home business out of jailbreaking consoles for others and you may draw the attention of Homeland Security.

At least that's the case for Matthew Crippen, a 27-year-old Cal State Fullerton liberal arts student who was arrested by Homeland Security authorities on Monday. Crippen was picked up for allegedly violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

"Defendant Matthew Crippen willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage and private financial gain, circumvented a technological measure that effectively controlled access to a copyrighted work, more particularly, used software to modify a Xbox machine's Optical Disc Drive so it would circumvent the anti-piracy measures contained on the original unmodified Optical Disc Drive," U.S. attorney Thomas P. O'Brien wrote in the indictment (PDF).

In a telephone interview with's Threat Level, Crippen maintains the purpose of his jailbreaking business was to allow patrons to make "legally made backups," not for piracy.

The indictment charges Crippen with two counts, and if convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

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