New Cybercrime Laws Face Uphill Battle

November 29th, 2007 - 12:50 am ICT by admin  

Government has been limited in fighting cybercrime for several reasons: scant knowledge among officials, heavy industry pressure against proposed laws and a free-market ethos on Internet issues.

Congress has either failed to pass bills or sent ineffective legislation to the president. Agencies have shied away from imposing regulations. Leaders have not bothered to make sure computer users understand the problem — if the officials themselves even comprehend the threats.

“Overall, I was amazed at the lack of knowledge, not only among presidential staff, but at the Cabinet level, and the Senate and House,” McAfee Chief Executive Dave DeWalt said after meeting in the summer with senators, Congress members and Cabinet secretaries about information security.

The threats aren’t easily grasped: U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D- Calif, whose district includes much of Silicon Valley, is one of Capitol Hill’s most Internet-savvy legislators. Yet even Lofgren, when asked in August if she knew what a botnet is, responded only with, “Sort of.” Her spokesman said most other members of Congress likely could not even make that claim.

Security experts say the navet of her colleagues is one cause of Congress’ lumbering response to Internet crime. Dozens of bills aimed at outlawing phishing, botnets and many forms of hacking have stalled short of the House floor. This session, two anti-spyware bills — one sponsored by Lofgren — are stuck in Senate committees.

Those bills that survive are often watered down. Spam has only gotten worse since passage of a much-hyped 2003 law that was supposed to control it.

The problems are complicated by corporations fighting laws and regulations that might hurt their bottom line. “There’s no question that financial services and retailers have been obstacles” to some bills moving forward,’ said Tim Bennett, president of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance, a trade group that includes…

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