[ISN] House agrees to increase cybercrime penalties

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Jul 17 2002 - 06:45:14 PDT

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    By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press 
    WASHINGTON (July 16, 2002 10:38 a.m. EDT) - Preparing the nation for
    future cyberattacks, the House voted Monday to increase penalties for
    computer crimes and make it easier for Internet service providers to
    disclose dangerous material to government agencies.
    The legislation also states that immediate threats to national
    security should be included among emergency instances where law
    enforcement can tap into computer communications. It passed 385-3.
    Many think of cybercrime as a form of vandalism, but "it can devastate
    our businesses, economy or national infrastructure," said Rep. Lamar
    Smith, R-Texas, the chief sponsor. "A mouse can be just as dangerous
    as a bullet or a bomb."
    Some provisions broaden language in a far-reaching anti-terrorism bill
    signed into law last fall after the Sept. 11 attacks.
    The bill exempts from civil or criminal liability Internet service
    providers who disclose communications to government offices in the
    good-faith belief in the existence of an emergency that poses danger
    of death or serious physical injury.
    Electronic surveillance tools known as "pen registers" and "trap and
    trace devices" can be used for 48 hours while court authorization is
    sought if an immediate threat to national security exists or an attack
    is under way on protected computers. Such devices allow law
    enforcement to find the source or destination of computer
    communications without capturing the content.
    The bill doubles to 20 years' imprisonment the maximum penalty for
    knowingly attempting to cause serious injury through a cyberattack.  
    Attempts to cause death are punishable by up to life in prison.
    To meet privacy considerations, the bill says agencies must report to
    the Justice Department within 90 days after getting access to
    electronic communications.
    The legislation, which requires Senate action, also would move the
    National Infrastructure Protection Center from the FBI to the planned
    Homeland Security Department to respond to cyberattacks. The Office of
    Science and Technology would become an independent agency at the
    Justice Department to develop technologies to help law enforcement.
    The White House, in a statement, said it did not object to the
    legislation but opposed moving the Office of Science and Technology
    from its current place in the National Institute of Justice.
    The bill is H.R. 3482.
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