[ISN] US to yank Kevin Mitnick's radio license

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Dec 24 2001 - 00:21:42 PST

  • Next message: InfoSec News: "[ISN] Buffer Overflow in Oracle 9iAS (#NISR20122001)"

    By Our investigative reporter
    Posted: 22/12/2001 at 18:45 GMT
    In a five-page order released Friday, the US Federal Communications
    Commission (FCC) claims that 38-year old convicted hacker Kevin
    Mitnick is not morally fit to be a ham radio operator.
    "Mr. Mitnick's criminal background raises a substantial and material
    question of fact as to whether he possesses the requisite character
    qualifications to be and remain a commission licensee," the FCC said.  
    "Given his propensity to engage in criminal activities, particularly
    those involving fraud, we have serious reservations about Mr.  
    Mitnick's ability to comply with our rules and regulations in the
    What's more, the FCC reminds us, "Mr. Mitnick's prolific and damaging
    hacking career made him the most wanted computer criminal in United
    States history."
    Mitnick was convicted of hacking-related felonies and was released
    from prison in January of 2001. He's still on probation until January
    Mitnick's had a ham radio license for about 25 years, and he applied
    two years ago for what's normally a routine renewal. He's not accused
    of making any illicit radio transmissions or any offenses that fall
    under the FCC's jurisdiction -- it's just that official Washington
    firmly believes computer hacking must be an unforgivable venal sin.
    Under FCC regulations, Mitnick's loss of his license is probable, but
    not automatic. A hearing will be scheduled at some to-be-determined
    date before an FCC administrative law judge (who, no surprise,
    typically sides with the bureaucrats). Appeals go to the full
    commission and from there to the federal courts.
    "It's just another example of them trying to harass me," Mitnick said
    Friday evening. "Now I've got to spend money to keep a ham license.  
    How ridiculous."
    "Obviously I'm going to have to fight for my right to be licensed,"  
    said Mitnick, who uses his ham radio every day. If Mitnick doesn't
    respond in 20 days, he automatically loses.
    Federal law requires amateur radio enthusiasts to obtain a license
    from the government. Mitnick has a "general class" license that
    required him to pass a five-words-per-minute Morse code test. (His
    callsign is N6NHG.)
    This action against Mitnick doesn't affect his "Dark Side of the
    Internet" radio show, which aired on KFI AM 640. Citing an advertising
    slowdown, the radio station gave it the axe on 10 December.
    The FCC believes it can do pretty much whatever it wants to Mitnick
    thanks to an enormously favorable DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruling
    last year. The judges said that the FCC could rescind the license of
    an amateur radio operator convicted of calling long distance for free
    via fake access codes, a felony.
    "There is nothing unreasonable about the FCC's conclusion that
    (Herbert) Schoenbohm's felony conviction was relevant to his license
    renewal. A conviction for fraudulent conduct plainly calls into
    question a licensee's ability to act in a manner consonant with FCC
    regulations," the panel of judges ruled three to zero.
    Fortunately for Mitnick, there's still a way to fight back. He can
    confess that, yes, he was a felonious knave -- who's completely has
    changed his ways. The agency's own "Policy Regarding Character
    Qualifications in Broadcast Licensing" admits that "rehabilitation" is
    a mitigating factor.
    Mitnick insists he's cured. "I was called to testify before Congress
    on federal computer security and now they're questioning my
    character," he says, noting that he even spent two days briefing the
    US Commission on National Security.
    The prosecutor who put him behind bars thinks otherwise. Christopher
    Painter, now deputy chief of the Justice Department's computer crime
    section, said earlier this month that Mitnick is still an unrepentant
    After running into his former courtroom adversary at the National
    Press Club, Painter said: "My problem with Mitnick these days is that
    he's never really accepted responsibility for his conduct... I hope he
    gets his life together, and I bear him no ill-will, but I think if you
    don't accept responsibility and you glamorize hacking and you get
    attention based on your former exploits, that sends the wrong message
    to people." (Mitnick was in town to speak at a Business Software
    Alliance conference.)
    That was on 6 December. Five days later, the FCC decided to take
    action against Mitnick. The decision became public on Friday.
    A coincidence -- or a way to strike back at the world's most famous
    convicted hacker? Says Mitnick: "I'm surprised that after two years
    they did this. Why the delay? It's very suspicious to me."
    ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org
    To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY
    of the mail.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Dec 24 2001 - 06:07:33 PST