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BizReport : Internet : July 05, 2013

Leaked document attacks EU's tougher laws on cybercriminals

Cybercriminals will face tougher penalties if caught in the European Union following a vote in the European parliament yesterday. Lawmakers have agreed to longer prison sentences. However, a leaked group briefing shows some do not agree with the use of longer sentences, calling them ineffective.

by Helen Leggatt

Once the new laws are introduced, hackers and other online criminals face at least two years for illegally accessing information systems and at least five years for cyber attacks against infrastructure, such as power plants, water systems, and transportation networks.

The European Parliament voted 541 - 91 with nine abstentions on the proposal by the European Union. It will take two years to translate the decision into national law. The exception was Denmark - the country has chosen to opt out of the rules and keep its own system in place.

Citing that evidence, from Europol and IT experts, has shown that current sanctions have little effect on reducing cybercrime, Jan Philip Albrecht, German politician and Member of the European Parliament from the Alliance '90/The Greens, attacked the directive.

"Top cybercriminals will be able to hide their tracks, whilst criminal law and sanctions are a wholly ineffective way of dealing with cyber attacks from individuals in non-EU countries or with state-sponsored attacks," said Albrecht, in a group briefing document acquired by Techdirt last year.

Albrecht also highlights the potential for white hat hackers, those who attempt to hack systems to prove to operators they are vulnerable, to be penalized for what is seen as important role they play in strengthening security.

According to Mike Masnick at Techdirt, the new legislation "does little to nothing to actually helping to stop online crime. What does help is having security researchers and others exposing and fixing vulnerabilities. But, if you create massive new penalties for "cybercrime" and make the rules amorphous enough that those security researchers may get charged under them for trying to help, you do create fewer incentives for them to actually help".

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: cyber crime, cybercriminals, European Union, hackers, law, security, white hat hackers

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