BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Science/Nature  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 16 July, 2002, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Hackers could face life in jail
Jail interior, BBC
Some hackers could be face long prison sentences
Malicious computer hackers could soon face life in prison for some computer crimes.

The US House of Representatives has approved a bill that inflicts harsh penalties for computer crimes that harm people or endanger America's critical infrastructure.

The same law rewrites the rules on surveillance and lets US police forces and law enforcers install wiretaps if there is an ongoing attack deemed to threaten national security.

Civil liberty groups criticised the legislation and said it trampled on rights to privacy, was hastily drawn up and punished people too severely.

Jail time

The Cyber Security Enhancement Act was endorsed by a huge majority in the US House of Representatives on Monday.

The Act was drawn up in response to a series of well-publicised attacks on high-profile websites.

Kevin Mitnick, AP
Kevin Mitnick: Former hacker banned from using computers
Last year's attacks in New York contributed to its support by US politicians.

Earlier this year Lamar Smith, one of the Congressmen sponsoring the bill, said: "A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bullet or a bomb."

The CSEA asks for the revision of sentencing guidelines for crimes that are committed with, or by, a computer.

It calls for a maximum life sentence for those who put lives at risk by breaking into computer systems and changing them or by recklessly misusing a computer.

'Sweeping and harsh'

The Act also gives law enforcement organisations more powers to investigate hack attacks.

It lets police forces and federal investigators install wiretaps without prior approval of a court if the attack is thought to be a threat to national security or is "ongoing".

The bill also obliges net service providers to tip off the police if they notice any suspicious activity on their network.

Civil liberties groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the legislation was too sweeping and the penalties it invoked were too harsh.

The Act still has to go before the Senate before it becomes law and some opponents are hoping that there will not be enough time to consider it before the current political sessions end in October.

See also:

15 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
13 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
26 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
19 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
17 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
28 Sep 01 | Science/Nature
16 Jul 02 | Americas
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Science/Nature stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Science/Nature stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes