Hackers to be more seriously punished

On Wednesday the German government passed a draft aimed at tigthening up the existing penal code thereby closing legal gaps so far open to hackers and other computer saboteurs. Although Germany´s penal code on computer issues already being quite voluminous, breathtaking new developments in the computer field are constantly generating new criminal dangers and possibilities for abuse, says Mrs. Brigitte Zypries, Federal Minister of Justice.

Even under the current legislation so-called “Phishing”, which is the spying out of personal data over the internet, is already a criminal offence.

Furthermore, the new draft also aimes at casting into national legislation of the EU skeleton laws dealing with attacks on information systems as well as of the European Council agreement on computer crime:

  • In future the unauthorized access to particularly protected data will be a criminal offence which means that “hacking” is punishable.
  • So far computer sabotage has only been a criminal offence, if attacks were directed against companies or public authorities. In future attacks on privated data processing systems will also constitute a crime. Furthermore, unauthorized insertion and transmission of computer data will be punishable in order to prevent “DOS-attacks” which means that a server is overloaded by unauthorized queries thereby exceeding ist capacity and consequently blocking any further authorized traffic on that server. Particularly serious may henceforward be punished with imprisonment of up to ten years.
  • Data acquisition from data transmission which is not meant for public use as well as from electromagnetic radiation emitted from data processing devices will be outlawed as well.
  • Particularly dangerous preparatory actions aimed at carrying out computer crimes will not be tolerated any more. This means that in future the manufacture, transfer, distribution or procurement of “hacker tools” which are by their character meant for illegal purposes will constitue a criminal offence.

The draft is available online. GERMAN