RealNews

Heckenkamp Challenges Computer Ban

Accused eBay hacker Jerome Heckenkamp is back in federal court in California this month, but it isn’t for his ever-slipping trial date. His attorneys are mounting a constitutional challenge to court-ordered pre-trial restrictions that have kept him from computers and the Internet since his indictment nearly three years ago. Under the conditions of his release, Heckenkamp, 24, is only permitted to use a single “drone” computer at home to review the electronic evidence in his case, without a modem, and with all the connectors but the mouse, keyboard and power ports covered with police evidence tape. Last summer, a planned visit to his parent’s home in Wisconsin was conditioned on his family removing all computers from their house, and allowing court Pre-Trial Services officials to inspect the home for wayward CPUs. Once de rigeur in cybercrime prosecutions, such computer bans have become increasingly contentious in the courts as PCs and the Internet become a daily part of American life. Federal appeals courts are split on the question of whether it’s permissible to ban someone from the Internet during the supervised release that follows a federal prison sentence: in separate cases, the 2nd and 3rd U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals have both ruled against the practice, finding that the bans are too broad to serve legitimate sentencing goals. Full Story

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