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Proposed bill would permit hacking victims to hack back

Cyber attack methods are changing every day. As soon as one purported scam or virus is identified and squashed, another can almost immediately take its place. Because of this, federal and state governments dedicate enormous resources to stopping cyber crime and identifying those who engage in it.

However, at least one lawmaker is looking to legalize "computer intrusion" in specific situations. A congressman drafted and proposed a bill that would allow people who have fallen victims to hackers to "hack back." 

AC/DC would justify unauthorized access

The bill is called the Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act, or AC/DC, and as noted by this Daily Beast article, it is similar to laws that allow people to use physical force to defend themselves against an attacker.

Broadly speaking, it would give people permission to access a hacker’s computer without authorization, collect data and/or engage in potentially unlawful activities in an attempt to identify and/or stop the attacker.

Security and legal critics take issue with the proposal

Not surprisingly, there are numerous critics of the bill who argue that allowing people to break into other people’s computer is dangerous and ultimately unwise. Security experts say that people engaged in countering a hacker could wind up accessing or destroying data from third parties.

Others caution that while creating a guide for legalized attacks could provide clarity, the potential for abuse and confusion is very real. Further, a scientist at a cyber security company notes that the requirements of the bill create too much red tape for it to be effective.

What this bill (and others like it) means for Texans

While it is unlikely that this bill will become a law, it is just one example of how lawmakers are trying to define computer or cyber crimes and punish those who engage in illegal conduct.

Considering the massive resources federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies have to investigate and prosecute people accused of internet crimes, it is crucial that anyone accused of this type of offense secure legal representation sooner, rather than later.

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