Saturday, November 17, 2007

U.S. Senate Passes New Cybercrime Legislation Defining Cyber Extortion

The U.S. Senate approved a new bill on cyber crime laws. The major portion of the bill applies to identity theft but a key provision also defines cyber extortion and makes it a felony crime. The bill also makes conspiracy to commit a cyber crime a felony.

It is common for some types of politically motivated computer crimes to involve forms of extortion. Examples include activity by cyber activists, or hacktivists, that threaten denial-of-service or other attacks if the target organization does not change their behavior, business or activity.

Specifically, the bill modifies section 1030 of title 18, United States Code as follows:


    Section 1030(a)(7) of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
      `(7) with intent to extort from any person any money or other thing of value, transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any--
        `(A) threat to cause damage to a protected computer;
        `(B) threat to obtain information from a protected computer without authorization or in excess of authorization or to impair the confidentiality of information obtained from a protected computer without authorization or by exceeding authorized access; or
        `(C) demand or request for money or other thing of value in relation to damage to a protected computer, where such damage was caused to facilitate the extortion;'.
    For those unfamiliar with section 1030, a "protected" system is broadly defined as a computer system owned or used by the US Government, a financial institution or any computer system used in interstate or international commerce or communication. This can include a system located outside of the U.S. if it affects interstate or US international commerce or communication.

    "Damage" is defined as "any impairment to the integrity or availability of data, a program, a system, or information".

    The U.S. House of Representatives must also pass the legislation before it becomes law.

    The full bill can be read at:

    Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2007

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