EMAIL PAGE NINE
COLUMN SIXTY-FOUR, OCTOBER 1, 2001
(Copyright © 2001 Al Aronowitz)
HACKERS TO GET LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE
FW: Life without parole for `computer terrorists' -retroactively?
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2001 13:44:32 -0700
From: "VENIRE" <VENIRE@znet.com>
face life imprisonment under 'Anti-Terrorism' Act Justice Department proposal
classifies most computer crimes as acts of terrorism.
Poulsen / Security Focus
virus-writers and web site defacers would face life imprisonment without the
possibility of parole under legislation proposed by the Bush Administration that
would classify most computer crimes as acts of terrorism.
Justice Department is urging Congress to quickly approve its Anti-Terrorism Act
(ATA), a twenty-five page proposal that would expand the government's legal
powers to conduct electronic surveillance, access business records, and detain
proposal defines a list of "Federal terrorism offenses" that are
subject to special treatment under law. The offenses include assassination of
public officials, violence at international airports, some bombings and
homicides, and politically-motivated manslaughter or torture.
of the terrorism offenses are violent crimes, or crimes involving chemical,
biological, or nuclear weapons. But the list also includes the provisions of the
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that make it illegal to crack a computer for the
purpose of obtaining anything of value, or to deliberately cause damage.
Likewise, launching a malicious program that harms a system, like a virus, or
making an extortionate threat to damage a computer are included in the
definition of terrorism.
date no terrorists are known to have violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
But several recent hacker cases would have qualified as "Federal terrorism
offenses" under the Justice Department proposal, including the conviction
of Patrick Gregory, a prolific web site defacer who called himself "MostHateD";
Kevin Mitnick, who plead guilty to penetrating corporate networks and
Justice Department submitted the ATA to Congress late last week as a response to
the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania
that killed some 7,000 people.
a "Federal terrorism offense," the five year statute of limitations
for hacking would be abolished retroactively–--allowing computer crimes
committed decades ago to be prosecuted today---and the maximum prison term for a
single conviction would be upped to life imprisonment. There is no parole in the
federal justice system
convicted of providing "advice or assistance" to cyber crooks, or
harboring or concealing a computer intruder, would face the same legal
repercussions as an intruder. Computer intrusion would also become a predicate
offense for the RICO statutes.
samples would be collected from hackers upon conviction, and retroactively from
those currently in custody or under federal supervision. The samples would go
into the federal database that currently catalogs murderers and kidnappers.
liberties groups have criticized the ATA for its dramatic expansion of
surveillance authority, and other law enforcement powers.
Attorney General John Ashcroft urged swift adoption of the measure Monday.
before the House Judiciary Committee, Ashcroft defended the proposal's
definition of terrorism. "I don't believe that our definition of terrorism
is so broad," said Ashcroft. "It is broad enough to include things
like assaults on computers, and assaults designed to change the purpose of
The Act is scheduled for mark-up by the committee Tuesday morning. ##
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