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updated 6/19/2012 3:20:06 PM ET 2012-06-19T19:20:06

A top electronic rights organization is up in arms after a Texas prison inmate was denied access to computers because he purchased a book with "Hacking" in the title.

Earlier this month, after inmate Reginald Green purchased "Hacking Exposed," a judge in Austin, Texas, banned him from using a computer. The book at the crux of this controversy, written by three security professionals, is intended to educate professionals regarding current threats, the Electronic Frontier Foundation  (EFF) explained.

But the EFF believes the court unfairly judged the book by its cover, and Green is paying the price for a decision based on fear rather than facts.

"This is an unfortunate, aggressive reaction to the social concept of 'the hacker,' without pausing to consider the facts of the case," Molly Sauter from the EFF wrote. The term "hacker," Sauter explained, could pertain to a criminal stealing credit cards and reselling them on underground forums; but, she said, "a DIY enthusiast building portable chargers in Altoid tins," can adopt the "hacker" handle as well.

Sauter also highlighted the crucial role so-called hackers play in keeping websites secure. Many top companies rely on "white-hat" hackers  to identify security vulnerabilities so the company can fix them before "black-hat" hackers can exploit the flaws for their own gain.

"Whether you call them hackers, makers, tinkerers or information security researchers, people on the hacking spectrum have been a boon to society for decades," she said.

In Green's case, however, she said the judge made a rash decision, using only the most negative definition of the word to influence the ban.

"Hackers are used as go-to villains by policymakers, who wave the nightmare scenario of rampant cybercrime and imminent cyberwar  to justify legislative proposals that threaten to encroach on your digital civil liberties," Sauter said. "Rather than evaluating the actual threat posed by Mr. Green having ordered the 'Hacking Exposed' book, the warden in this case appears to have latched onto the word 'hacking' and overreacted."

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved

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