24 April 2002 The European Commission has proposed a draft law that would imprison convicted hackers and virus writers. If approved, the law would lead to prison sentences of at least one year for acts of computer crime and at least four years for attacks that caused physical harm, large economic losses or gains, or that involved an organised crime network.
The Commission believes that computer crime is increasingly being committed by organised criminals. “There is clearly a Mafia approach,” said European Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Antonio Vitorino. “There have also been sophisticated organised attempts to steal substantial sums from banking services.”
The draft law defines hacking as gaining unauthorised access to an information system with the intent to cause damage or for economic gain. It is intended to harmonise national legislation in the European Union (EU). It would require backing from EU governments as well as the European Parliament before it would come into force. The proposal also requires EU member states to set up systems to exchange information about computer attacks.
The European Information Society Group (EURIM), which lobbied for the proposed legislation, says that the law will help the fight against computer crime but “will not achieve results without greatly improved cooperation between industry and law enforcement”.