- Two US senators from Montana successfully introduced an anti-Real ID amendment that prohibits employers from requiring the upcoming national identification card for employment verification. The Real ID Act goes into effect on 11 May 2008 and will require a federally approved ID card to travel on airplanes, open bank accounts, collect social security, or other government services. The amendment still awaits a formal vote.
- In May, the German government approved legislation that makes hacking a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The legislation defines hacking as penetrating a computer security system and gaining access to secure data—even if data isn't stolen. The legislation closes loopholes in a previous law against attacks on business IT systems; denial-of-service attacks and sabotage against individuals are now also punishable under the law. Critics of the new law, such as the Chaos Computer Club, say it will hinder the work of white hat hackers and researchers and restrict the ability of security companies to guard against attacks.
- Under a new law in Hong Kong, spammers can be fined up to one million Hong Kong dollars and spend five years in jail. Hong Kong's deputy secretary for commerce, Marion Lai, said that 95 percent of Hong Kong's spam originated from outside the country but most unsolicited faxes and voice calls were local. The new law doesn't apply to telemarketers.
- In June, the US House of Representatives passed the Spy Act, a broader anti-spyware bill than the I-Spy Act the House approved in May. The Spy Act would outlaw transmitting personal information without users' knowledge and sets penalties for spyware authors who install security-circumventing code on computers without user authorization. Opponents of the bill—from the American Bankers Association to the Information Technology Association of America—say it would regulate every Web site on the Internet and, as written, would threaten search engines and e-commerce and news sites that rely on cookies. The Senate is expected to vote on both bills later this year.
- Zimbabwe's lower house passed a bill in June that would let the government monitor phone calls, emails, and Internet use. The Interception of Communications bill is now before the upper house, where it's expected to pass because President Robert Mugabe's ruling party controls both houses. In opposition to the bill, Movement for Democratic Change legislator David Coltart, said, "I recognize the need for legislation of this nature, especially after the emergence of al Qaeda and international terrorism. The objection is what checks are there to stop the abuse of this law."
- In June, the Boston, Massachusetts police department unveiled its new anonymous text-message tip line. The initiative is part of its Crime Stoppers programs, which lets citizens call in anonymous tips about crime. Calls and text messages are routed through a third party that forwards them to the police department, protecting the tipster's identity. In the program's first three days, the police received roughly 35 messages, including one that detailed a suspected drug dealer's license plate number and regular hideout.
- The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed its plans to require European visitors to fill out online questionnaires two days before entering the US. The DHS's chief privacy officer, Hugo Teufel, said the department had been discussing the idea internally but had no timetable for introducing the requirement, which would likely require congressional approval. The DHS said the online registration requirement would work in tandem with the Automated Targeting System, which assigns risk factors to determine the likelihood that visitors entering the US could be security threats.
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