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A new bill has been introduced in California that will allow harsher penalties to be handed out to people who intentionally distribute computer viruses or carry out denial of service attacks on commercial Websites.

Those convicted under the new bill, signed by Gov. Gray Davis, will face a fine of up to $5,000 for the first conviction. If the act of cyber-vandalism causes more than $10,000 worth of damage, then the perpetrator could face three years in a state prison.

But the problem of proving intent is still there. Anyone with half a brain who wants to release a virus into the wild is not going to do it in a traceable manner.

The current penalty for releasing a virus was a $250 fine. Perhaps the relatively lenient punishment just made would-be infectors get a bit sloppy? This will probably make them tighten up their operations, and we will never know who they are.

Another bill introduced by Davis will set up a register for victims of online fraud that will allow them to clear any bad credit ratings that they may have gained as a result of a crime committed against them. ®

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