The European Civil Liberties Committee is looking to bring down the hammer on hackers and those who would target security vulnerabilities for malicious purposes. They set forth a new proposal that would make hacking a criminal offense throughout the European Union, with offenders facing up to two years in prison. If you have any hacking tools in your possession, or plan to distribute them, you could also face charges.
The proposal was passed with barely any opposition: 50 voted in favor of the new plan, with only a single member opposed, and three abstentions. Monika Hohlmeier says that the financial damage caused by hacking “ amounts to several billions each year”, and that the EU is dealing with “serious criminal attacks, some of which are even conducted by criminal organisations.”
The maximum penalty would be two years in prison, although that can be extended to five years if a tool explicitly designed for attacks is used, such as a botnet. Other mitigating factors can also extend the sentence, such as disrupting vital system services, or causing large financial losses and costs.
Finally, spoofing another person's IP address could result in a maximum prison term of three years. Not all cases would see criminal prosecution, with “minor” incidents escaping harsh judgement. How something would be considered “minor” is unclear, although reportedly it would be where insignificant damage is caused as a result of an attack.
[via European Parliament News]