The US House of Representatives has approved a bill aimed at increasing the penalties issued to cybercriminals and deterring "electronic terrorism".
The bill passed by the House Judiciary Committee was inspired by recent fears about "cyberterrorism" and an increase in virus activity and hacking, as well as a backlash against current lenient sentencing against cybercriminals.
The new ruling will enable closer coordination of intelligence action against suspect internet activities and will offer tougher sentencing.
The author of the "Melissa" virus, which wreaked an estimated $1.2bn-worth of damage across the world, was jailed last week for 20 months and fined just $5,000.
Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican representative behind the bill, welcomed the approval, saying that cybercrime could "harm the national economy and threaten its security".
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