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EU passes tough new law to penalise cyber criminals and launches inquiry into NSA

The EU has passed a tough law ruling that hackers and cyber attackers will face at least two years prison in the future. It also passed a resolution to launch an "in-depth inquiry" into US surveillance programmes on the EU.


With the new cyber attacker law, hackers will face three years for using botnets. In cases of major attacks, the EU dictates: "Attacks against 'critical infrastructure', such as power plants, transport networks and government networks, can lead to a five-year prison sentence. The same applies if an attack is committed by a criminal organisation or if it causes serious damage."

The new law consolidates the treatment of cyber criminals across the EU – until now, each country has had vastly different penalties for hacking cases. The law also sets an eight-hour deadline for urgent requests, encouraging police cooperation across countries.

As for companies, they'll also face penalties if they use cyber attacks for its benefit, including potentially being shut down.

Amidst the turmoil surrounding NSA surveillance programmes on the European Parliament, the Parliament also passed a resolution to  launch an "in-depth inquiry" into US spying activities on EU premises in Brussels and the US. It was passed by 438 votes to 98, with MEPs condemning Prism and calling on the US to give the EU full information on the allegations as soon as possible.  It'll present the results at the end of this year.

European governments that run similar surveillance programmes (including France and the UK) didn't escape criticism – the parliament is urging them to examine whether they are compatible with EU law.

Unlike cyber criminals, MEPs called for "procedures allowing whistleblowers to unveil serious violations of fundamental rights" – a nod to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who remains on the run from US authorities.

Image credit: Flickr user Ian Sane

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