Senate Approves Hatch-Biden Bill to Fight Cyber Crime
Last night the U.S. Senate approved a bill to help the government protect Americans from online threats, updating the law to keep pace with the rapid technological advancement of recent years. The bill included provisions authored by former Judiciary Committee chairmen Senators Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-Delaware) to combat cyber crimes such as computer hacking, theft of confidential information, and spreading computer worms and viruses.
"Congress is building a stronger arsenal in the war on computer crime and identity theft," Hatch said. "Millions of Americans spend billions of hours every year on the Internet for business, education, and recreation. They need to know their government is providing adequate online protection for them. If aggressively enforced, these legislative updates will be a great protection for Americans' security."
"As we continue to strengthen our national security and fight terrorism, we cannot lose sight of cracking down on crimes that happen everyday - whether they take place on the street corner or online," said Biden, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs. "Cyber-crimes may be virtual, but their impact is measured in real dollars and occasionally in physical injury or death. Our anti-crime laws need to keep pace with the 21st Century and this legislation does just that."
The Hatch-Biden legislation, introduced in October as the Cyber Crime Act of 2007, was incorporated into the Identify Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act (S. 2168), which passed the Senate by unanimous consent. The Senate's swift action on these provisions indicate the broad-based, bipartisan support for the modernized resources Hatch and Biden want to put in law enforcement's hands. The provisions of the Cyber Crime 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, which 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.
"The potential damage to our economy and infrastructure from certain computer viruses is unlimited," Hatch said. "Our law enforcement agencies are acutely aware that criminal organizations utilize these viruses, and society's conjoined computer networks present too tempting a target for thieves to pass up. The likely efforts of criminals to use these viruses must be confronted swiftly and with all available means."