[ISN] Feds out for hacker's blood

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Thu Jan 18 2007 - 22:30:48 PST


By Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
January 18, 2007

Adrian Lamo, the hacker best known for illegal pranks aimed at companies 
like Yahoo, Microsoft and The New York Times, is free once again.

But his legal battles over handing over a DNA sample to the federal 
government are just beginning.

After pleading guilty to breaking into the paper's internal computer 
network in January 2004, the terms of Lamo's probation had confined him 
to the eastern district of California, which includes his parents' home 
near Sacramento where he is living. That probation, which included 
mandatory "computer-monitoring software and filtering equipment," 
expired Monday.

What isn't over is Lamo's refusal to give federal authorities a sample 
of his blood, which he says violates his religious convictions. He has 
offered to give a cheek swab as an alternative, a practice used by a 
number of states including California--but not the federal system.

During a hearing this week in Sacramento, U.S. District Judge Frank 
Damrell Jr. said he would hold an status hearing on the DNA question on 
February 26.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento said she did 
not know whether the pending hearing meant that Lamo would still be 
fettered by his probation restrictions: "We don't know the answer to 
that right now."

Lamo's attorney did not return phone calls, and an aide to the judge 
declined to comment. No additional restrictions beyond the one scheduled 
to expire Monday are listed in Lamo's court records, however.

Mary French, a federal public defender representing Lamo, and the U.S. 
Attorney's Office have been fencing through a series of briefs since 
last May about whether the "homeless hacker" can be forced to relinquish 
a blood sample instead of a skin scraping.

"If Mr. Lamo sheds blood for a DNA test, he would not only be violating 
his religious beliefs and the scripture in which he believes, but he 
would also be causing anyone who facilitates the act to commit a sin, 
multiplying Mr. Lamo's culpability and sinfulness," French wrote in a 
legal brief filed on January 8.

Lamo has invoked a passage in the Christian Bible, Genesis 9:6, which 
says, according to one translation: "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by 
man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man."

A 2000 federal law called the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination 
Actrequired that DNA samples be taken from anyone convicted of or on 
probation for certain serious crimes. This was challenged in court on 
Fourth and Fifth Amendment grounds, but a federal appeals court upheld 
(click for PDF [1]) the DNA collection requirement as constitutional.

In the Times intrusion, Lamo said he was able to view employee records, 
including Social Security numbers. He said he could access the contact 
information for the paper's sources and columnists, including such 
well-known contributors as former President Jimmy Carter and former 
Marine Col. Oliver North. The charges against Lamo also involved running 
up the paper's bill for LexisNexis, a commercial database of news and 
other articles.

In interviews with CNET News.com before his surrender to the FBI, Lamo 
claimed to be responsible for intrusions into systems at MCI WorldCom in 
December 2001, Microsoft in October 2001, Yahoo in September 2001, and 
Excite@Home in May 2001. When he entered Yahoo's system, Lamo said, he 
was able to alter news articles on the company's site.

[1] http://www.epic.org/privacy/johnson/circuit_opinion.pdf

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