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European Parliament passes new cyber attack legislation

Cyber criminals will face tougher penalties in the EU, under new rules adopted by the European Parliament yesterday. The draft directive, already informally agreed with member states, also aims to facilitate prevention.

Aspects of the legislation include:

  • A penalty of at least three years' imprisonment for establishing or using botnets.
  • Attacks against critical infrastructure can lead to a five-year prison sentence.
  • Member states will be required to respond quickly to urgent requests for help in the event of cyber attacks, so as to render police cooperation more effective. They will have to make better use of the existing 24/7 network of contact points to respond to urgent requests within eight hours.
  • Legal persons, such as firms, would be liable for offences committed for their benefit (e.g. for hiring a hacker to get access to a competitor's database). Penalties could include exclusion from entitlement to public benefits or closure of establishments.

The text, adopted by 541 votes to 91, with 9 abstentions, is expected to be formally adopted by the Council very shortly. The new directive builds on rules that have been in force since 2005. Once adopted, member states will have two years to transpose it into national law.

The UK and Ireland have decided to apply this directive but Denmark will not be bound by it.

•Date: 5th July 2013 • Europe/UK •Type: Article • Topic: Critical infrastructure protection

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