Will Mitnick get to write?

Published June 24th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

He can't use computers for the coming few years, let alone come near a word processor, but notorious hacker Kevin Mitnick wants to write! Mitnick spent four years in prison for hacking into telephone company computers in the late eighties. After his release from prison earlier this year, Mitnick has been barred from using computers and other high-tech devices or from working as a consultant or adviser to any computer-related business for three years. 

Nevertheless, Mitnick plans to return to court on Monday to challenge a probation officer's order barring him from becoming a columnist for an Internet company. Steven Brill, who publishes the monthly magazine Brill's Content, has offered Mitnick a job writing a monthly column for the Contentville Web site scheduled to launch next month, reported The Associated Press. 

The former hacker would review computer magazines for the site, which will offer analysis, commentary and product reviews. The site also will sell books, magazines and other publications. 

Federal probation officials, however, contend that this is not the right job for Mitnick, who has acknowledged he was once addicted to hacking into computers.  

"In regards to the numerous requests you have received concerning writing and critiquing articles and speaking at conferences, we find it necessary to deny your participation and recommend that you pursue employment in a non-related field," wrote Mitnick's probation officer, Larry Hawley.  

US District Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer, who sentenced Mitnick to 54 months in prison, is scheduled to hear his challenge to the ruling Monday.  

But Mitnick's supporters believe that the court is going too far. 

"Surely, Mr. Mitnick can be prohibited from teaching others how to hack, but that condition should not be so broadly read as to prohibit him from speaking or writing on any topic related to computers," New York attorney Floyd Abrams wrote in a friend of the court brief. 

While, 2600.com, which publishes the hacker quarterly pleaded on the front page of its website "While Kevin still has many restrictions, such as not being allowed to work with computers and not being able to give advice on the subject where he can best be described as an expert, it is our hope that the court will see fit to lift the unreasonable restraints that are preventing Kevin from telling his story, earning a living... and meeting people who could help him get his life back on track." 

Brill said Thursday that Mitnick is one of about 90 contributors he has lined up for Contentville. He would pay him a $5,000 down payment, plus $750 per column, as well as 50 percent of the profits from a planned e-book that would include some of Mitnick's articles. 

If Mitnick wins the appeal, he would have to write his column on a typewriter and dictate it over a landline telephone to his editors in New York -- Albawaba.com 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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