Federal Hacking Statutes: The Gov’s Security Breach Sentencing Wish List

federal hacking statutes law
What are the top 3 things lawmakers want to see added to Federal hacking statutes?

Every administration since the Internet has rattled about federal hacking statutes and national online privacy issues.

The Obama administration is no different.

Federal Hacking Statutes Idea #1: Mandatory Minimum Sentences

A White House proposal floating around the Internet suggests a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years for anybody who knowingly causes or attempts to cause damage to a critical infrastructure computer.

What constitutes a “critical infrastructure computer?” Any machine, public or private, involved in national defense, national security, national economic security, public health, or public safety.

The proposed law seeks to protect the following infrastructures (and more):

  • Gas and oil production, storage, and delivery systems;
  • Water supply systems;
  • Telecommunication networks;
  • Electrical power delivery systems;
  • Finance and banking systems;
  • Emergency services;
  • Transportation systems and services; and
  • Government operations that provide essential services to the public.

Federal Hacking Statutes Idea #2: AMENDMENTS TO RICO STATUTE

When in doubt, make it a RICO offense! Yep, some politicians want to change the  “racketeering activity” definition found in 18 U.S.C. 1961(1)  to add “fraud and related activity in connection with computers” as one of the offenses, if the fraud or related activity is felonious.

Federal Hacking Statutes Idea #3: CRIMINAL FORFEITURE

The White House isn’t only pushing for minimum sentences and changes to the RICO statute. Lawmakers also want to ensure that profit hackers can’t keep ill-gotten gains. As such, it’s been suggested that “any real or personal property used to facilitate the commission of the offense of fraud and related activity in connection with computers, found under 18 U.S.C. 1030, be forfeited to the United States.” And yes, gross proceeds would be gone in cases where the defendant is found guilty.

In other words, the computers hackers use to commit offenses — and even the house used to shelter said computers — could be seized under the desired federal hacking statute suggestions.

Will The Feds Get Their Federal Hacking Statutes Pushed Through?

Whether these proposals become law remains to be seen. The White House’s suggestions will almost certainly be amended by a congressional committee before anything happens, but it seems unlikely that the legislative branch will put up any real objection to mandatory minimum sentences for hackers.

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