The US House of Representatives yesterday approved a bill that could put hackers in the slammer for life.
Yesterday's vote, carried by an overwhelming 385 to three, indicated that the Cyber Security Enhancement Act, written up before the crackdown on terrorism began last September, will be rubber stamped all the way.
The bill must go before the Senate to become law, but it is expected to meet with little, if any, opposition. However, as the holiday period for senators includes all of August, the legislation may not be passed until October.
It is not clear how far reaching the bill will be with regard to hackers, as the life imprisonment sentence is for those who put lives at risk through electronic means. Whether this includes minor hacking felonies remains to be seen.
The legislation also grants powers to the US police to tap phone lines and monitor internet traffic without a warrant. Such actions are limited to situations which pose a threat to national security.
The bill is designed to complement the US Patriot Act, brought into force some years ago.
The approval of the Cyber Security Enhancement Act has been criticised by civil liberties groups.
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