Bill pending in California classifies ransomware as extortion

Prosecutors will be enabled to seek jail time of between two to four years for those committing crimes using the malware.
Prosecutors will be enabled to seek jail time of between two to four years for those committing crimes using the malware.

A bill is pending in California that would designate the use of ransomware as a form of extortion, according to StateScoop.

Proposed by State Sen. Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) as S.B. 1137, the bill passed the state assembly last week and then, with the approval of amendments, passed the state senate. It now awaits the approval of Governor Jerry Brown.

The bill specifies ransomware in its definition of extortion, which would enable prosecutors to call for jail time of between two to four years for those committing crimes using the malware.

“Sadly, ransomware attacks are increasingly common,” Hertzberg said in a release. “Basically, this is an electronic stickup. We need to make clear that intentionally using ransomware is a very serious crime that will not be tolerated...”

The bill, officials said, would bring the state's current legal guidelines into line with the need to include technology and criminal activity unknown years ago.
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