The Senate Judiciary Committee today voted to advance key provisions of the Cyber Crime Act of 2007, legislation authored by Senators Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-Del.), both former chairmen of the committee, to boost the federal government's ability to fight cyber crimes such as computer hacking, theft of confidential information, and spreading computer worms and viruses. Senators Hatch and Biden believe the law hasn't kept pace with the rapid technological advancement of recent years, a problem the Cyber Crime Act of 2007 would help address.
"As criminals adapt their tactics and exploit technological changes and loopholes in the law, it is imperative that Congress help federal law enforcement to maintain their vigorous efforts to combat cyber-crime activity," Hatch said. "As potential criminals learn about the new tools available to law enforcement personnel, many will be deterred from perpetrating illegal activity over the Internet."
"Even though cyber-crimes are virtual, their impact is measured in real dollars and occasionally in physical injury or death. Our laws must keep pace with the changes in Internet technologies in order to adequately protect our citizens and government against these growing threats," said Biden, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs. "These new provisions will help law enforcement pull the plug on hackers and other cyber-criminals by expanding our current cyber-crime laws relating to damages and extortion."
Senators from the Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to include sections of the Hatch/Biden Cyber Crime Act (S. 2213) into the Identify Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act (S. 2168). The combined bill subsequently passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a unanimous vote. Now the legislation can proceed to the floor for final approval by the Senate.
"As this bill continues through the legislative process, we grow closer to building a strong arsenal in the war on computer crime and identity theft," Hatch said. "I am confidant that this combined legislation, once enacted, will provide the tools needed to pursue those who choose to inflict such harm on unsuspecting victims. All of the legislative changes included in this legislation, if aggressively enforced by law enforcement, will have a positive impact on our security."
"I hope my Senate colleagues will join the Judiciary Committee in quickly passing the Identify Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act. We need to give law enforcement the tools they need to stop Internet criminals in their tracks," added Biden.
The Cyber-Crime Act of 2007, now incorporated into the Identify Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act, would:
- Criminalize any threat to damage a computer network, or disclose confidential information illegally obtained from a network;
- Criminalize online conduct that causes limited damage to a large number of computers;
- Prohibit the creation of a bot-net that a criminal could use to attack online businesses and other computer networks;
- Permit law enforcement to seize computer equipment and other property used to perpetrate computer crimes;
- Authorize the U.S. Sentencing Commission to update their guidelines to reflect the severity of Internet crimes.