Senate Judiciary Committee passes combined cybersecurity bill

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Portions of the Cyber Crime Act of 2007 have been folded into another bill mandating tougher cybersecurity standards, the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2007.

Forwarded sections of the Cyber Crime Act would criminalize threats to damage a computer network or disclose information illegally obtained from a network, as well as online conduct that causes limited damage to a network. They would also prohibit botnet creation and authorize the U.S. Sentencing Commission to update guidelines to reflect the severity of cybercrimes.

The combined bill was passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and faces a full Senate vote.

Both bills were the product of cross-party alliances. The Cyber Crime Act was authored by Sens. Joseph Biden, D-Del., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act was written by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

The Identity Theft Enforcement Act would strengthen law enforcement's hand against cybercriminals by eliminating a prosecution requirement that sensitive information must have been stolen from a computer through interstate or foreign communications. The bill would also make it a felony to use spyware or keyloggers to damage 10 or more computers, and would do away with a requirement that attacks resulting in less than $5,000 worth of damage are classified as misdemeanors.

The bill would also expand the definition of a cybercrime to include cyber-extortion cases.

Hatch urged the Senate to pass the measure.

“As this bill continues through the legislative process, we grow closer to building a strong arsenal in the war on computer crime and identity theft,” Hatch said in a news release. “I am confident that this combined legislation, once enacted, will provide the tools needed to pursue those who choose to inflict such harm on unsuspecting victims. All of the legislative changes included in this legislation, if aggressively enforced by law enforcement, will have a positive impact on our security.”  

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