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Tuesday, 5 September, 2000, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Plea to revive Love Bug charges
Computers, Philippines
The virus crippled 45 million computers worldwide
Philippine investigators are seeking permission to revive criminal charges against a former computer student suspected of unleashing the so-called Love Bug computer virus.

Twenty-four-year old Onel de Guzman was let off last month by the Justice Department, which ruled that he could not be charged under laws that cover credit card fraud.

Investigators say the Justice Department did not take into account the fact that the virus was used to break into a telecommunications system.

De Guzman
Mr de Guzman admits he may have accidentally released the virus
The Love Bug virus, attached to an e-mail with the subject line ILOVEYOU, caused damage worth billions of dollars when it crippled at least 45 million computers worldwide on 4 May.

Among those affected were some big US firms, the Pentagon and UK Parliament.

The attack led to an international manhunt, which culminated in the arrest of Mr de Guzman.

Unauthorised access

The computer student admitted that he may have accidently released the virus, but could not be charged with computer hacking since the Philippines did not have a law against the crime at that time.

The National Investigation Bureau (NIB) subsequently charged him with a law that prohibits using electronic devices to break into a telecommunications system.

Love Bug virus
The "ILOVEYOU" title of the love bug made it tempting to open
NIB chief Frederico Opinion said the law was normally applied for credit card frauds, but it could be used to prosecute those who stole computer passwords.

"What seems to be vitally material in this case is that the respondent used an unauthorised access device, the use of which is prohibited," Mr Opinion told the AP news agency.

The NIB has asked the Justice Department to reconsider its decision to dismiss criminal charges against Mr de Guzman.

Philippines brought into force a new law covering electronic commerce and computer hacking in June, but it cannot be applied retrospectively to the Love Bug case.

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See also:

21 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Love Bug charges dropped
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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