Ex-Hacker Mitnick Gets His Ham On Again

Once called "the most wanted computer criminal in U.S. history," Kevin Mitnick finished a five year prison sentence in January of 2000. That prison sentence stemmed from issues involving Mr. Mitnick having hacked into computer systems, stealing information, and evading the law, but many observers have said that he was unfairly singled out by the US judicial system. During the course of being in custody, Mr. Mitnick was held in solitary confinement for 8 months, allegedly due to the belief that he could affect the US nuclear arsenal from a pay phone (no, really), and he spent a total of 4 and a half years being held without bail due to his previous 3 year flight from justice.

Since being released from jail in 2000, Mr. Mitnickis parole terms included restrictions on when and how he could use computers. For instance, last year he released a book called The Art of Deception that was typed up on a manual typewriter. He had to use a manual typewriter because he isnit allowed to touch a computer or other device that can connect to the Internet. Late in 2002, Mr. Mitnick auctioned some of his computers through eBay, including one autographed by Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak. He posted the auctions with the help of his girlfriend, who actually placed the items on eBay.

Mr. Mitnickis case has never been one with black and white issues, including his own actions, his pursuit by the law, his sentencing, and his subsequent parole. Publicly, Mr. Mitnick has convincingly made the case that he has mended his ways, and has plans to start a security company once his parole is complete later this month. Once complete, Mr. Mitnick will be free to use computers, and the Internet, as he sees fit.

In the meanwhile, another aspect of his life recently made the news. According to SiliconValley.com, he has only recently been allowed to renew his ham radio license, despite having held a license since the age of 13. According to the newspaper, he first applied for the renewal from jail in 1999, but it took three years and US$16,000 in legal fees to finally get the FCC to agree to renew his license. From SiliconValley.com:

The Federal Communications Commission ordered a hearing, citing that Mitnick at one time was "the most wanted computer criminal in U.S. history." FCC Administrative Law Judge Richard Sippel granted the license in a ruling made public Monday.

"He started hacking as an inquisitive teenager and wound up a disgraced felon," Sippel wrote. "There is reliable evidence that Mr. Mitnick has focused on becoming an honest, productive citizen."

Mitnick said he was pleased with the decision.

"We put on a good case to show the FCC that Iim sorry for my past actions," he said.

Mitnick, who began using ham radios when he was 13, said it cost him more than $16,000 in legal expenses to convince the FCC to renew his license. Typical renewals are free. "Itis the most expensive amateur radio license in the world," Mitnick said.

You can read the entire article at the SiliconValley.com Web site.

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