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Queens Chronicle

Gillibrand act fights cybercrime thefts

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Posted: Thursday, March 25, 2010 12:00 am

Queens businesses lose almost $369 million every year as a result of online thefts, according to Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-New York), and she said this, is only a conservative estimate.

The senator has introduced bi-partisan legislation which she said in a telephone press conference Tuesday would help the government keep a watchful eye on international criminals, often responsible for online thefts.

Gillibrand’s “International Cybercrime Reporting and Cooperation Act” would require the President to annually report to Congress regarding the state of online crime from different countries and set goals for countries replete with net criminals. Should countries fail to control their cyber thieves, Gillibrand proposes a series of economic dis-incentives.

Her act has received support from many businesses who favor increased online scrutiny and control. She cited Facebook, HP, eBay and Cisco among the bill’s proponents.

“We support efforts to increase global awareness of cybersecurity issues,” said Tucker Foote, vice president and head of U.S. government affairs for MasterCard Worldwide. “We believe [this] legislation provides useful tools to further those goals and to provide a safer environment for U.S. consumers and businesses to operate in today’s technology-driven world.”

However, for Jared Kaprove, domestic surveillance counsel for the electronic privacy information center, there is reason for pause when a great deal of information about Americans is aggregated. “It is not always bad, but it does raise concern when large corporations and the government are cooperating,” Kaprove said.

Since this act is mainly focused on combating cyber criminals abroad, Kaprove said it could be valuable. Among countries of “cyber concern,” Gillibrand listed China and Russia, but said their were countless others. “I think this bill will have significant bi-partisan appeal,” Gillibrand said.

While it is true that cyber crime is an increasing problem as more countries obtain high-speed Internet connections, privacy and electronic rights are still a consideration.

How much of one’s online identity would need to be known in order to prosecute online criminals, and could the enforcement process compromise personal privacy?

“I think it’s a valid question,” Kaprove, said. “I think these questions play a role in the public debate on cybersecurity.”

Gillibrand said she did not recommend specific methods for implementation, so security and privacy issues would not be made evident until the act passed.

The act also has provisions for allowing the President to waive a country’s obligatory compliance to an online safety action plan “if it is in the national interest and report such waiver to Congress in classified form, if necessary.” Kaprove speculated that this provision was likely due to the desire to maintain diplomatic relations, but it does raise questions.

“We don’t have the liberty to sit back and do nothing,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who co-sponsored the act with Gillibrand. “I believe the International Cybercrime Reporting and Cooperation Act will not only function as a deterrent of cybercrime, but will prove to be an essential tool necessary to keep the Internet open for business.”

For Kaprove, borders on the Internet are negligible. “One thing to think about is that borders on the Internet don’t really mean anything, so it’s worth wondering how [our goverment] intends to ensure that the people they are targeting are actually overseas. It’s possible for something on the Internet to seem like it’s coming from one place and actually come from another place,” he said.

Welcome to the discussion.