House panel OKs stiffer cybercrime penalties

Thursday, 9 May 2002, 10:14 AM EST

Spurred by worries about electronic terrorism, a dramatic increase in computer viruses and other Internet intrusions, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill that seeks to better coordinate efforts to fight cybercrime while increasing recommended sentences for those found guilty.

Under current law, punishments for cybercrimes are based on the economic damage they cause, which often results in little or no jail time. The author of the "Melissa" computer virus, which caused $1.2 billion in damage, was sentenced last week to 20 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

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