Thu, 6 Mar 2003 01:41:39 -0500 (EST)
Protest online, go to jail? New European anti-hacker laws could
criminalize web protests
In today's New York Times:
The justice ministers of the European Union have agreed on laws intended
to deter computer hacking and the spreading of computer viruses. But legal
experts say the new measures could pose problems because the language
could also outlaw people who organize protests online, as happened
recently, en masse, with protests against a war in Iraq.
The agreement, reached last week, obliges all 15 member states to adopt a
new criminal offense: illegal access to, and illegal interference with an
information system. It calls on national courts to impose jail terms of at
least two years in serious cases.
Critics from the legal profession say the agreement makes no legal
distinction between an online protester and terrorists, hackers and
spreaders of computer viruses that the new laws are intended to trap.