Nakoula pleaded no contest in 2010 to federal bank fraud charges in California and was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was also sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and was ordered not to use computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer.So, the guy they interviewed last night is a convicted felon, currently on probation supervision. Further reading reveals that his original offense was that when prosecution began, he had stolen the identities of his relatives and had over 600 fraudulent credit accounts. One of the conditions of probation was that he not use a computer for anything but work.
I was a probation officer for 20 years. If one of my caseload caused this much bullshit, you betcha I'd be interviewing him. I'd also be fine-combing his probation conditions to look for violations. If the court says no computers, then it's the probation officer's job to enforce that condition.
I recall a kid back in the early '90s who was hacking into other folks computers and causing a lot of grief and distress. The detective working the case was having a hard time charging him because computer crime hadn't been legislated yet, so that gumshoe used the old trick of aggregating the offenses and charging the kid with a felony under the Criminal Damage to Property statute. The judge, after adjudication, put the kid on probation with the condition that he use no computers while under supervision. We went to talk with the judge to get that condition clarified and at the end of the meeting, that kid was back in the 1960s. He couldn't use a telephone, because when you pick up a phone to draw dial-tone, you're using a computer. He couldn't drive a car made after 1980 because those vehicles had computer chips. There were lots of things that kid couldn't do because computers were becoming so pervasive in today's society. Today he couldn't turn on a television, drive a car, use a cell phone, or have an ATM card. All those things are computers.
All those other folks can be outraged about the interview of a convicted felon, but I stand with the probation officers. He's a convicted felon, and felons lose lots of rights while they're under probation supervision. He'll get many of those rights back when he completes his sentence, but until then, I've got no sympathy for him.