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Senate bill seeks crack down on cybercrime havens

Economic penalties for 'countries of concern'

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Foreign countries that turn a blind eye to cybercrime would lose US financial assistance and resources under a bill introduced Tuesday in the Senate.

The International Cybercrime Reporting and Cooperation Act would require the President to identify "countries of cyber concern" and to plot a course to help each one get tougher on cybercrime. Those that don't reach prescribed benchmarks would face economic penalties in the form of cuts to trade assistance grants, US export dollars and foreign-direct investment funds.

The bill is sponsored by Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, and Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah. It has the support of about a dozen companies, including Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, eBay, Visa, and Mastercard.

It comes almost one year after senators introduced a separate bill that would establish a broad set of cybersecurity standards designed to bolster US cybersecurity. The bill, which was introduced by Democrat Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine, has yet to make it out of the Senate Commerce Committee.

The bills are intended to crack down on people who commit computer-based bank fraud, remote attacks on the networks of US-based citizens and businesses, and other types of cybercrime. The non-partisan Government Accountability Office estimates the US businesses lost $67.2bn as a result of cyberattacks in 2005.

A long-standing hurdle in the campaign to curb cybercrime has been shutting down the networks that cater to bot herders and to arrest criminals who are located in certain foreign countries.

The International Cybercrime Reporting and Cooperation Act is intended to encourage counties to cooperate more with US law enforcement officials. It would require the President to issue a report every year that assesses the state of various countries' use of information and communications technologies in critical infrastructure, the amount of cybercrime based in each country and the effectiveness of each country's law enforcement in policing those crimes.

The President would be required to develop an action plan for any country of concern, although the President could waive the requirement if the waiver was based on national interest.

It would also require the Secretary of State to designate a senior official at the State Department to coordinate an international policy combating cybercrime. ®

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