Tuesday, June 05, 2007, 6/05/2007 08:17:00 AM

Bills Seek Tougher Penalties for Computer Fraud & Abuse

From Wired, a story about the proposed Cyber-Security Enhancement Act, introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). The bill seeks to stiffen penalties and sentencing times for cybercriminals by classifying computer-fraud offenses as a predicate offense for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute. Authorities could also seize any ill-gotten gains obtained through online racketeering.

The bill would also change the damage threshold that qualifies a cybercrime for FBI attention. According to Wired, "[c]urrently, a financial loss of $5,000 spread out among victims makes an intrusion into a federal case; under the bill, damaging 10 or more computers in a year would automatically qualify, even with no financial harm."

Another proposed bill, the I-SPY Act, introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), also seeks to amend the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act by setting a five-year sentence and/or fines for anyone caught using subversive software "in furtherance" of a federal criminal offense. Scam artists who distribute software coded with keystroke loggers or other covert functions such as bots, a type of malicious software that secretly puts a vulnerable PC under the control of an attacker, would be liable. Persons who use such techniques, and who use them to steal Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, passwords or any personal identification information could face new and enhanced charges.

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