Life Imprisonment for Hacking?

by David Sims

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According to
Kevin Poulsen of Security Focus, the
Anti-Terrorism Act that's being rushed through Congress lumps several hacking crimes into the same bill as some pretty gnarly stuff, including "assassination of public officials, violence at international airports, some bombings and homicides, and politically-motivated manslaughter or torture." Computer crimes in this case are described as "crack[ing] a computer for the purpose of obtaining anything of value, or to deliberately cause damage."

The act retroactively removes the statute of limitations on these crimes and gives the FBI broader powers to confiscate computer equipment. Worse are the penalties, which extend all the way out to life imprisonment.

Ashcroft to Congress: "I don't believe that our definition of terrorism is so broad ... It is broad enough to include things like assaults on computers, and assaults designed to change the purpose of government."