In the aftermath of the hacking of Gov. Sarah Palin’s e-mail account, one long-time friend of the alleged hacker said he wishes him the best.
Johnathan Holbrook, junior in accounting, said he has known David Kernell for about six years. The two both lived in Shelby County in Memphis, Tenn. Holbrook said the two had Statistics 207 together in the Spring 2008 semester.
“I could honestly never see David trying to do something like that or do anything with malicious intent,” Holbrook said. “Talking about it is one thing but actually doing something is something I couldn’t see David doing.”
Furthermore, Holbrook said he did not know Kernell had the capabilities and skill set of complex hacking.
“I never really got the impression that David was capable of say, hacking, or something like that,” Holbrook said. “From everything I’ve read, what he did wasn’t like creating a program or something like that. ... I don’t know David to be extremely tech savvy or anything like that.”
Holbrook said he learned about Kernell’s troubles from another friend.
“I got a text from a friend about it,” he said. “When I found out about it, I went to Google and did a search for David, and the first thing that popped up was an article about what had happened and the allegations.”
Addressing Kernell’s political beliefs, Holbrook said he was not the most vocal of his peers.
“David leaned a bit more to the left, but joining Facebook doesn’t really translate to being politically active,” Holbrook said. “He discussed politics. I think anyone does that. But he was never a member of any organization that promoted one party over another. He was never a member of any sort of group that necessarily advocated for one side or the other. But politically, he was more to the left.”
His friend said Kernell enjoyed poker, chess and other activities college students enjoyed.
Gabriel Ramuglia is the owner of Ctunnel.com, the proxy service used to hack into Palin’s Yahoo e-mail account. He said the service’s main use is for students and employees to circumvent school and office filters to access blocked sites.
“Right now the vast majority of the people going to my site are using it to get to YouTube because its been blocked in the country of Turkey,” Ramuglia said. “Over a million use it a day for that. Also kids in school use it to get to MySpace.”
Ramuglia said he felt good about allowing students to get around Internet blockage.
“There’s a law in the United States that any public schools getting technology funding have to run filters,” he said. “But instead of just filtering out what they are required to, just filtering out porn, they block what’s popular with the kids. A lot of places block e-mail (and) block YouTube.”
Though the proxy service gives users anonymity, he said the purpose is more towards getting around filters and not hacking.
“I can’t condone that kind of activity through my site,” he said. “That’s not what it’s for. Any kind of blatantly illegal activity like that, I’m willing to look into it to stop that. There’s plenty of reasons to want to be anonymous and private that are not breaking the law, and that’s what I encourage my site for.”
Ramuglia said he is looking into ways to prevent malignant misuse of his service.
“I’ve done quite a bit to make it harder to abuse my site in an automated fashion,” he said. “I’ve got a program that makes it harder to access my site to send spam and stuff like that. But if people are accessing my site manually, like they would normally, it’s harder to tell the difference between legitimate access and illegitimate access.”
Kernell family attorney Wade V. Davies declined comment. David Kernell and his father, Rep. Mike Kernell, did not return phone calls.