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September 19, 2008

Getting tough on cybercrime

This local press story covers notable federal sentencing news involving cybercrime.  The piece is headlined "Leahy's Web crime bill to become law," and here are some excerpts:

President Bush will soon sign into law a bill by Sen. Patrick Leahy to impose tougher federal penalties on criminals who steal people's identities and hack into businesses' confidential information. For the first time the law also gives identity theft victims the power to seek restitution for the money and time they lose fighting to restore their damaged credit.

A recent survey by the Federal Trade Commission found that more than 8 million Americans fell victim to identity theft in 2005. In Vermont, the incidents are few, but the number grew from 159 in 2003 to 178 in 2006, according to the commission.

Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he became involved in the issue when he discovered how weak the criminal penalties were for cybercrime. "Instead of giving you the kind of token protection you have now, this bill allows federal prosecutors to move in on cybercriminals," Leahy said in an interview. "If somebody thinks they might actually have to go to jail, they may think twice about committing these crimes."

Leahy's bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., enables federal prosecution of criminals who steal personal information from a computer even when the thief and the victim are in the same state. Under current law, federal courts have jurisdiction only in interstate cases. The legislation makes it a felony to employ spyware to damage 10 or more computers, regardless of the cost of the damage. It also requires the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review and update its sentencing guidelines to get tougher on identity theft and other computer crimes.

"Even though cybercrimes are virtual, their impact is measured in real dollars," said Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., who helped write several key provisions in the bill. "Our laws must keep pace with the changes in Internet technologies in order to adequately protect our citizens and government."

September 19, 2008 at 09:14 AM | Permalink

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