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Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 21:01 GMT 22:01 UK
Love Bug suspect to be charged
Computers, Philippines
The virus crippled 45 million computers worldwide
Philippine investigators are to file criminal charges against a computer school dropout suspected of releasing the Love Bug computer virus.

We believe now that we have a good case against him

NBI Director Federico Opinion

The Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said it had sufficient evidence to prosecute 24-year-old Onel de Guzman.

The "ILOVEYOU" virus caused billions of dollars worth of damage when it crippled at least 45 million computers worldwide on 4 May.

Earlier this month, prosecutors had said they were dropping charges against Mr de Guzman because they were no laws which they could apply in the case.

De Guzman
De Guzman admits he may have accidentally released the virus

However, prosecutors have now charged him with theft and violation of the Access Device Regulation Act, a law that normally covers credit card fraud.

"We have existing traditional laws that we can fall back on," NBI Director Federico Opinion said.

"We believe now that we have a good case against him."

Love Bug
The bug caused billions of dollars of damage

"We are just trying to show everybody that if you commit a crime in this country, you have to be penalised, you have to be prosecuted," Mr Opinion said.

He added the charges carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Last week, President Joseph Estrada signed a new law covering electronic commerce and computer hacking, but it cannot be applied retrospectively to the Love Bug case.

Stolen passwords

Mr de Guzman admitted last month that he may have accidentally released the virus, which replicated itself via e-mail and spread at great speed.

However, he has refused to say whether he authored it.

Mr Opinion said that Mr de Guzman used his technical knowledge to gain unauthorised access of passwords and perform destructive activities.

Mr de Guzman uploaded the virus onto four subscribers of local Internet service provider, Sky Internet, stealing passwords to do so.

Love Bug virus
The "ILOVEYOU" title of the love bug made it tempting to open

A student at the Philippines' AMA Computer College, he had failed to graduate after professors rejected his thesis proposal for a programme that steals internet passwords.

There was speculation that Mr de Guzman could have unleashed the virus in revenge.

The NBI said it would not charge 40 other people identified in a similar virus programme allegedly found in a raid on Mr de Guzman's Manila flat.

Investigators seized 17 computer disks and computer accessories in the raid on 8 May.

"We believe that he is alone in doing this," Elfren Meneses, head of the NBI's anti-fraud division, said.

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See also:

10 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Love Bug revenge theory
09 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Police hunt Love Bug gang
10 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Warning of more internet attacks
09 May 00 | Americas
Defending cyberspace
04 May 00 | UK
'Love Bug' bites UK hard
15 Nov 99 | Sci/Tech
E-mail security bubble bursts
30 Mar 99 | Sci/Tech
Melissa virus goes global
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