Judge lifts hacker's PC restrictions

A federal judge says Adrian Lamo, the so-called homeless hacker, can go free on bail with only limited restrictions on his computer use until his next court date.

NEW YORK--A federal judge on Friday said Adrian Lamo, the so-called homeless hacker, could go free on bail with only limited restrictions on his computer use until his next court date in October.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman kept Lamo's bail at the earlier amount of $250,000 but lifted the restrictions that barred him from using a computer at all. Instead, Freeman said, the 22-year-old California resident accused of breaking into The New York Times' network can use a computer for e-mail and to apply for a job or a college program.

Lamo's computer access also "may be monitored in the discretion of pretrial services," Freeman said during an afternoon hearing. Other restrictions she imposed require Lamo to live with his parents in the Sacramento area--they have posted their home to secure their son's bail--and to notify the court if he plans to be away from home for more than 24 hours.

Both the assistant U.S. attorney and Lamo's court-appointed public defender agreed to those conditions. Prosecutor Joseph DeMarco added that Lamo would be able to use a PC "not just to seek school (but also) to continue in school or continue in employment."

Freeman also read Lamo his rights, reviewed a financial affidavit that showed he was essentially penniless, and said the conditions of his release were "reasonable based on the allegations of the complaint and pretrial report."

Because Lamo has not been indicted so far, an arraignment was not held. The prosecution has 30 days to indict Lamo, and the judge scheduled the next hearing for Oct. 14.

Lamo's attorney, Sean Hecker, declined to comment after the hearing. Neither would Lamo, except to say that "it's a beautiful day."

Lamo, something of a legend among hackers for his brazen exploits, media savvy and rootless lifestyle, is facing two criminal charges. One claims he illegally entered the network of The New York Times, viewed confidential employee records and created a false administrator account; the other says he ran up about $300,000 on the paper's Lexis-Nexis account.

In the New York Times incident in February 2002, Lamo was able to view employee records--including Social Security numbers--and access the contact information for the paper's sources and columnists, including such well-known contributors as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former Marine Officer Oliver North and hip-hop artist Queen Latifah. He also has claimed break-ins at technology companies including MCI WorldCom, Microsoft and Yahoo.