Obama wants teen hackers treated like gangsters

All is not well in the Land of the Free. The self-styled “president” of the Junta which overthrew its lawful king a while back has become terrified that hackers are causing too much damage.

According to TheHill.com, the Obama administration is seeking tougher penalties for cybercrimes.

Associate Deputy Attorney General James Baker and Secret Service Deputy Special Agent in Charge Pablo Martinez thinks that the maximum sentences for cyber crimes have failed to keep pace with the severity of the threats.

Martinez said hackers are often members of sophisticated criminal networks and he disputes the claim that hacking is done by a lone kid who is doing it for laughs.

“Secret Service investigations have shown that complex and sophisticated electronic crimes are rarely perpetrated by a lone individual,” Martinez said.

Strangely however most of the arrests that have taken place recently have been of kids working from their basements while their mum makes them milk and cookies and wonders if they will ever get a girlfriend.

Martinez said that online criminals organise in networks, often with “defined roles for participants, in order to manage and perpetuate ongoing criminal enterprises dedicated to stealing commercial data and selling it for profit”.

This is the opposite the largest and most public hacker crew, Anonymous. Anonymous has few “leaders” and does not appear to make any cash from its hacks. Nor does it deal with cases like the British UFO hacker Gary McKinnon. McKinnon broke into the US defence network looking for proof of aliens.

Baker and Martinez appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss stiffer penalties for cyber crimes as it updates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

Obama seems to think that the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act should be updated to make CFAA offenses subject to its terms. That would stick Anonymous in the same league as the Mafia and mean that 17 year-old hackers could get sentences which were millions of years long.

Baker told the committee that hacking has increasingly become a tool of choice for crimes like identity theft, extortion and corporate espionage.