Thursday, October 18, 2007

Expanding the Identity Theft Statute

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Ranking Member Arlen Specter introduced the "Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2007" to expand the power of the federal government to pursue cases of identity theft.  According to a press release (here) issued by Senator Leahy, the new bill would give federal prosecutors greater authority to bring identity theft cases by lowering the jurisdictional requirements for a federal prosecution.  The press release outlines some of the changes the proposed legislation would bring about:

  • Expand the jurisdiction of federal computer fraud statutes to cover small businesses and corporations;
  • Eliminate the prosecutorial requirement that sensitive identity information must have been stolen through an interstate or foreign communication and instead focuses on whether the victim’s computer is used in interstate or foreign commerce, allowing for the prosecutions of cases in which both the identify thief’s computer and the victim’s computer are located in the same state;
  • Make it a felony to employ spyware or keyloggers to damage ten or more computers regardless of the aggregate amount of damage caused, ensuring that the most egregious identity thieves will not escape with a minimal, or no, sentence;
  • Eliminate the requirement that the loss resulting from damage to a victim’s computer must exceed $5,000; under this bill violations resulting in less than $5,000 damage would be criminalized as misdemeanors.

More federal crimes, the preferred solution in Congress. (ph)

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