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Hacker to challenge limits on post-conviction speech

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    NMU         CALIFORNIA         Prior Restraints         May 12, 2000    

Hacker to challenge limits on post-conviction speech

  • Federal probation officials told convicted hacker Kevin Mitnick that speaking at computer security conferences and writing on those issues violates his probation agreement.

An ex-computer hacker says he is planning to challenge a probation agreement that originally was intended to bar him from using the Internet, computers and cellular phones for three years but is now also being used to keep him from writing or speaking about computer issues.

Kevin Mitnick, who was released in January after spending almost five years in prison on computer hacking charges, calls the new restrictions an abridgement of his First Amendment rights, according to a report by The Associated Press.

In April, federal probation officials in Los Angeles ordered Mitnick not to lecture about computer security at a Utah information-technology conference. They also ordered him not to write reviews of computer magazines for the Web site Contentville.com. Mitnick estimates he would have made about $20,000 this summer from lecturing and writing.

Noted First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams has said he will file court papers on behalf of Contentville.com in support of Mitnick. Mitnick, who says he has complied with the original terms of his release agreement, describes the new restrictions as additional punishment meant to “chill my freedom of expression in hopes that my notoriety will die down,” according to the AP. Probation officials claim the original agreement already bars Mitnick from “consulting or advising” about computers.

Ironically, Mitnick testified before Congress in March about computer-security issues at the government’s request.

Mitnick was arrested in 1995 after eluding an FBI manhunt for three years. He was charged with infiltrating the computer systems of Motorola Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc., among others, and causing millions of dollars worth of damage.


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