What is Cybercrime Legislation?
Cybercrime legislation can be considered the laws that are in place to prevent and protect against cybercrime, and to also punish the guilty parties involved. Not all cybercrime law is created equal. There are varying degrees of laws in place as cybercrime encompasses a vast array of attacks, and there are varying levels of laws to combat the attacks. In some cases cybercrime legislation may not be in place or still in the phases of being built.
Legislation could also be considered the process in which laws are being made, but for this article, I’ll be focusing on the law aspect and briefly go over current bills being considered in the United States that could affect people in the United States as well as people living in other countries.
Cybercrime Legislation Coverage
Cybercrime, also known as computer crime, is any form of crime committed through the use of the internet or by using computers as their medium. Like any regular crime, there is legislation in place and cybercrime laws do exist to protect the innocent and punish the guilty. However, cybercrime legislation and law is a very tricky item. Like any other law, cybercrime legislation and law depends on the originating source of the crime itself. Cybercrime legislation is much trickier due to the use of the internet while committing these crimes. A hacker or social engineer can be half a world away, even worse they can be in a country that does not have cybercrime legislation in place.
Cybercrime encompasses more than just stealing information, there are many crimes that fall into the computer crime category such as:
- Identity theft
- Social network engineering
- Denial of service attacks
- Cyber stalking
- Malware, spyware, viruses, trojan horses via spoofing
This means you can be a victim of cybercrime in the United States and not be able to press charges against the person who committed the crime. There are laws in place against cybercrime across almost all of the seven continents, Africa, Asia, North America, South America, Central America, Europe, and Australia, but not all countries in those continents have the legislation standing and in place.
For countries that do have cybercrime legislation in place, the laws do not cover all forms of cybercrime. The majority will cover for the malicious spreading of malware, spyware, viruses and trojan horses and at times identity theft, but items such as pretexting, phishing and cyber stalking are not specifically called out in some countries.
Who Is Protected by Cybercrime Legislation?
Cybercrime legislation covers a wide range of people to protect. Let’s take a look at some of the countries that have stronger
cybercrime legislation practices in place to protect consumers.
In the United States, there are federal laws in place to protect the country itself as well as consumers. Under the U.S. Code Title 18 - Crimes and Criminal Procedure, Part I - Crimes, Chapter 47 - Fraud and False Statements, there is a section for computer related fraud and crime, Section 1030. This legislation protects consumers from harmful attacks that could cause financial loss or damage to computers; however it does not cover cyber stalking. There are also enterprise level regulatory laws in place such as:
- The Telecommunications Act of 1996 that protects customer proprietary network information.
- The Sarbanes Oxley Act that protects company financial data integrity.
- The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 that protects digital medical records
- 47 State level privacy laws to enforce the protection of consumer information and 2 Federal bills currently in legislation to protect consumer information
In China, it’s a bit different with cybercrime legislation in place to protect the country itself from attacks and some protective measures around malware propagation to individuals. In the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, under Articles 285 to 287, there are laws in place to protect the state and to punish people who spread viruses.
In contrast to China, the United Kingdom has more cybercrime legislation in place to protect individuals. The original Computer Misuse Act of 1990 protects individuals from being targeted by fraudulent and malware attacks. The Police and Justice Act of 2006 Chapter 48 expands into the original Misuse Act and protects individuals further by changing verbiage that may have limited cyber crimes to just computers, and expanded it to any device.
Where is Cybercrime Legislation Headed?
Around the world countries are beginning to implement cybercrime legislative measures, either by forming new groups to create these laws or new groups to help enforce the legislation. Due to the constant evolution of cybercrime, legislation is usually a step, if not two steps behind. As time goes on, it is expected that cybercrime legislation will expand and more governments will begin to keep a keen eye on the information super highway.
The United States is currently underway with the Cyber Security Act of 2009, which would give the nation a Cybersecurity Advisory Panel to maintain cybersecurity through the entire government. It would also give the President the power to limit or even shut down internet traffic if it is deemed an emergency situation- quite a scary thought to some.
Another recent act rising in the United States is the International Cybercrime Reporting and Cooperation Act, which would give the President the ability to assess international cybercrime. The President would be able to slow down aid, suspend trading or suspend financing to international countries that are soft in cybercrime legislation and high in cybercrime.
The internet was and is still considered the wild, wild, west of old to many, with crime much easier to commit online. Cybercrime legislation has to be careful not to anger the global community in its attempt to tame the internet.
This post is part of the series: Cyber Crime Educational Series
An educational series on cyber crimes. The reasons behind the crime, the damage caused, the laws to try to stop them and what the future possibly holds in the dark, anonymous underworld of cyber crime.