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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

White House Proposes Stiffer Penalties in Computer Hacking Legislation

This week, President Obama announced a legislative initiative designed to strengthen the penalties for convicted computer hackers. The initiative proposes a mandatory 3-year prison term upon conviction of a number of computer crimes; the sentence would be served consecutively to any other convicted counts.

The computer fraud and abuse act is already on the books.  Obama's proposal is aimed at introducing stiffer mandatory penalties - something like Michigan's mandatory two year consecutive sentence for a weapons-related conviction. 

The initiative also introduces a broad definition of a "critical computer infrastructure", seeking to regulate the reporting of breaches of such infrastructure(s).  A critical computer infrastructure includes the delivery of critical government services, telecommunications, finance and banking, emergency services, and oil, gas, water and electricity production. 

That covers just about everything but Face Book.

Another interesting facet of the President's cyber-legislative proposal is adding computer hacking to the list of crimes covered by RICO (Racketeering-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), the act used successfully over the decades to convict mobsters and mob bosses.

We do live in an age where secure transactions are critical to our daily life.  In such a culture, cyber-crooks and hackers may be paying a higher price for their misdeeds if President Obama's proposal gets any legislative legs.

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