NEWS

Senators Biden and Hatch Introduce Cyber-Crime Act

By Matthew Harwood

Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have teamed up to introduce a new bill that would strengthen the government's ability to fight cybercrime.

The Cyber-Crime Act of 2007 will close loopholes that cybercriminals continue to exploit. Hacking, stealing confidential information, and transmitting viruses and worms are the most common forms of cybercrime.

A press release from Hatch's office summarized the bill's main provisions.

The Cyber-Crime Act updates and improves the current cyber-crime law. Right now, felony provisions that outlaw damaging a computer network apply only if a cyber-criminal causes more than $5,000 worth of damage in any given year. If a hacker damages 1,500 personal computers, law enforcement faces the nearly impossible challenge of identifying all the victims proving that the aggregate damage caused exceeds $5,000. The Cyber-Crime Act closes this loophole by allowing law enforcement to prove, as an alternative to the $5,000 damage amount, that the conduct in question damaged 10 or more computers. The Cyber-Crime Act also fixes a current loophole concerning extortion, by outlawing not only threats to damage computers, but also threats to reveal confidential information illegally obtained from computers. The Act also bans the creation of a bot-net, a network of comprised computers intended to be used to commit an online crime; provides for the forfeiture of computer equipment used in the commission of a crime; and directs the Sentencing Commission to update the sentencing guidelines applicable to computer crimes.

Biden identified cybercrime as a real threat to the infrastructure we depend on everyday for our safety and security.

"With a few strokes on a keyboard, a cyber-criminal could damage critical Internet-based infrastructures like emergency response, transportation, healthcare and criminal justice systems. Perhaps most frightening is how quickly a hacker could damage our national defense and security systems.”

To read the text of the Cyber-Crime Act of 2007, click here.

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