White House Seeks Tougher Penalties for Hacking, Cyber-Crime

eWeek, By Fahmida Rashid, September 13, 2011

Obama administration officials spoke about the need for increased penalties for computer crimes in light of increased data breaches and hacking activity. The increase in computer crime, ranging from Anonymous-led distributed denial-of-service attacks, Website attacks where data is stolen and general online mayhem, has led the White House to call for an increase in criminal penalties for computer crimes. Online attacks have become more serious as attackers target sensitive personal data and corporate secrets and undermine infrastructure security. However, the penalties under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act don’t match the seriousness or complexity of cyber-crime, Associate Deputy Attorney General James Baker and Secret Service Deputy Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Investigative Division, Pablo Martinez said Sept. 7 in a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The proposal was based on the White House’s cyber-security plan unveiled in May. The administration is also asking for updates to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act so that cyber-crimes can be investigated and prosecuted as organized crime as defined under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. CFAA should be technology-neutral so that it remains viable as technology evolves and new tactics emerge. “As computer technology has evolved, it has become a key tool of organized crime,” Baker said, with many groups having ties to traditional criminal organizations in Asia and Eastern Europe. “The fight against organized crime is far from over; rather, much of the focus has moved online,” Baker added. http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Security/White-House-Seeks-Tougher-Penalties-for-Hacking-CyberCrime-500717/?kc=EWKNLSTE09132011STR1

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