Has Congress Finally Figured Out The Intertubes?

Has Congress Finally Figured Out The Intertubes?

Congress is considering two pieces of legislation to counter the rise of botnets, denial of service attacks, and spyware like keyloggers. And they're finally taking an approach to Cyber-crime that reflects the seriousness of the crimes; they're bringing it under the umbrella of the RICO act, which was originally intended to attack real-world gangsters.  You can't hide in Second Life from the long arm of the law any longer. And with a proposed five year prison sentence for such crimes, cyber-criminals might become at least half as frightened of the Justice Department as they are of the RIAA.

"You're looking at a new species of criminal conduct," says Roma Theus, a white-collar crime expert at the Defense Research Institute and a former federal prosecutor. "We have to look beyond where we are today and think about where we might be ten years from today."

The Cyber-Security Enhancement Act, introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California), would do just that, stiffening penalties and sentencing times for cybercriminals by classifying computer-fraud offenses as a predicate offense for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, law. Authorities could also seize any ill-gotten gains a crook may have obtained through online rackets.

The measure also adjusts the damage threshold that qualifies a cybercrime receive FBI attention. Currently, 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.

Legislators never properly understood that one person essentially could become an entire criminal organization by using unwitting computer users to supply him with accomplices. They seem to finally have grasped the magnitude of the problem, and begun to at least talk about doing something about computer-based crime.  It's long since time to flush out the "series of tubes." 
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