The US Government says the threat of cyber attacks is real and has now vowed to target threats more aggressively. White House officials say the constant onslaught of data breaches and criminal hacking activity are forcing federal officials to crack down. Law enforcement divisions are calling for increased penalties for computer crimes.
The increase in computer crime ranges from cyber groups such as Anonymous– to the theft of personal information. Officials would like to increase existing penalties to deter attacks.
Online attacks have become more serious as attackers target sensitive personal data and corporate secrets and undermine infrastructure security. However, others who express opinions online fear they could
be targeted for retribution simply for their views.
The administration is asking for updates to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act so that cybercrimes can be investigated and prosecuted as organized crime.
The White House wants to take the punishment of cyber crime to unprecedented levels. Under the proposed law, hackers who endanger national security would be put in prison for up to 20 years. The proposal would also double current prison times and increase fines in
each category of computer crimes.
Concerned over the punishment of accused crimes and how they are considered under the law, leading democratic lawmakers and activists are raising concerns over a widespread crackdown and whether it would violate civil rights.
The administration also requested minimum sentences for anyone convicted attacking critical infrastructure. Tougher sentencing penalties may deter people from joining in on attacks but many are concerned that if the net is cast too wide, the average person could
automatically become a criminal.