May 26, 2024

Tech Provisions in Homeland Security Bill

Orin Kerr, over at the Volokh Conspiracy, summarizes some tech-related provisions in the new Homeland Security bill.

The bill changes the sentences that can be assessed for some computer crimes. The effect of these changes is unclear but will likely be small. The widely discussed life-sentence-for-hacking provision applies only in cases when the crimes deliberately or recklessly kill people; but such crimes are already punishable under state murder statutes. There is also an increase in the penalty for intruding into people’s email.

The bill also makes some changes in wiretap law, granting more power to law enforcement. I won’t attempt to further compress Kerr’s already-compressed explanation; read it yourself if you’re interested.

UPDATE (12:49 PM): Ted Bridis points out that the life-sentence-for-hacking provision applies even to attempts to kill people. This might in some cases allow prosecutors too much leeway.