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Obama Wants Hacking to Be a Form of Racketeering

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In the wake of the Sony hack and yesterday's CENTCOM shitshow, President Obama just announced new cybersecurity legislation and related proposals for "securing cyberspace." This is a good thing, because America's cybersecurity kind of sucks. It's also a worrisome thing, since cybersecurity legislation like this stands to stomp on our civil liberties. Or at least it has historically in the form of CISPA.

Specific details are a bit scant at the moment. Think of this legislation as Obama's version of CISPA. It is not the same bill as CISPA, but it sets out to accomplish the same goal of improving cybersecurity. More specifically, the White House wants to encourage private companies to share cyber threat data with government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security. Again, there are some serious privacy concerns with the idea of the government strong-arming data from private companies. Some of that data is your data!


The legislative proposal will set out to clarify the consequences of hacking. The White House says that "the measure would update the organized crime law, the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), to apply to cybercrimes," according to a New York Times report. That means that hacking would officially become a type of racketeering and hackers could soon face the same kinds of penalties that mobsters do. In related news, it's good week to go see a bad movie about criminal hackers. Or at least it'll make these current events seem more pressing. [White House, NYT]

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