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[infowar.de] Homeland Security: Schärfer gegen Hacker, mehr Internet-Überwachung möglich
Eine erste Einschätzung.
Gründlichere Analysen werden wohl noch etwas dauern - das Geesetz hat
Internet Provisions in Security Bill
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
November 19, 2002
Filed at 6:05 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Internet providers such as America Online could give
the government more information about subscribers and police would gain
new Internet wiretap powers under legislation creating the new
Department of Homeland Security.
Provisions of the bill tucked into a section about ``cyber-security
enhancements'' received scant attention during debate.
Most of these provisions passed the House as part of separate
legislation in an overwhelming 385-3 vote during the summer, but they
were never considered in the Senate. Many are similar to changes made
last year under the USA Patriot Act, which included new laws affecting
Internet wiretaps and hacker investigations.
One new provision raises possible criminal penalties to life in prison
for hackers caught during electronic attacks that cause or attempt to
cause deaths. An attack aimed at causing ``serious bodily injury'' could
result in 20 years behind bars.
The debate over appropriate penalties for serious hacker attacks has
intensified since the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Experts have increasingly
focused on Internet threats to important computer systems that control
power grids, pipelines, water systems and chemical refineries.
``We must not ignore the growing threat of cyber attacks,'' said Rep.
Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who first introduced the proposals as the Cyber
Security Enhancement Act.
Just a few years ago, hackers vandalized popular commercial and
government Web sites, including those for the Pentagon, White House and
Senate. But compared with the threat of electronic shutdowns of critical
services, such attacks seem like simple nuisances.
Supporters of the sentencing changes for hackers say they eliminate
differences with penalties for other crimes that might also result in
deaths. Critics noted that some prosecutors have been accused of
exaggerating the scope and financial damages from hacker attacks.
The bill also calls for greater legal protections for Internet
providers, such as AOL or Microsoft Network, for giving government
officials information about their subscribers during computer
emergencies. If companies believe ``in good faith'' that there is risk
of death or injury to any person, they can turn over details about
customers -- even their e-mails -- without a warrant, under the bill.
Civil liberties groups, such as the Washington-based Electronic Privacy
Information Center, contend the bill's language lets Internet providers
reveal subscriber information to any government officials, not just
investigators. Traditionally, U.S. companies have refused to act as
agents for prosecutors without court-approved warrants, said Chris
Hoofnagle, EPIC's legislative counsel.
The legislation requires government officials who obtain such
information to report details to Attorney General John Ashcroft within
90 days. It also requires Ashcroft to report results to Congress after
Another part of the Homeland Security bill gives U.S. authorities new
power to trace e-mails and other Internet traffic during cyber attacks
without first obtaining even perfunctory court approval. That could
happen only during ``an immediate threat to national security,'' or an
attack against a ``protected computer.'' Prosecutors would need to
obtain a judge's approval within 48 hours.
Experts have noted that U.S. law considers as ``protected'' nearly any
computer logged onto the Internet. And civil liberties groups have
frequently complained that obtaining permission from a judge is too easy
for this type of e-mail tracing; if an investigator merely attests that
the information is relevant to an ongoing investigation, a judge cannot
deny the request.
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