Michigan Senate Introduces Bill Criminalizing Car Hacking As Serious Offense
May 04, 2016 01:41 AM EDT
The Michigan Senate on Saturday introduced a bill targeting electronic car hacking activities. The bill will criminalize car hacking as a serious offense. Regardless, critics said the new legislation will undermine the effort to find potentially dangerous bugs by criminalizing white hat hackers.
The bill was sponsored by two Republican senators, Mike Kowall (R-White Lake) and Ken Horn, (R-Frankenmuth), as Automotive News reported. The proposal will be the first of what are expected to be several bills that would regulate Michigan's emerging connected and autonomous vehicle industry.
The bill would make it a felony for someone to "intentionally access or cause access to be made to an electronic system of a motor vehicle to willfully destroy, damage, impair, alter or gain unauthorized control of the motor vehicle." The person convicted to doing those will be sent to up to life in prison. The new Senate Bills 927 and 928 have been referred to the judiciary committee.
Meanwhile, according to The Verge, the idea of sending someone to die in prison for the crime of exploiting a vehicles' internal weakness may strike some as excessive specifically those in research community where there are "white hat" hackers who make a profession out of looking for vulnerabilities and reporting them to companies.
There was long history that some of white hat hackers were sent to prison for this activity. In July 2001, Dmitry Sklyarov was arrested by FBI while presenting security a PDF file in a DEF CON Las Vegas security conference. He was put on trial along with the company he worked for, Elcom Ltd. on a criminal charges under theDigital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),
In December 2001, charges against Sklyarov were dropped while a year later, a federal jury in San Jose, California also found Elcom Ltd. not guilty of all four charges against DMCA.
The new bill would sentence hackers to life in prison, if they already have three felony convictions. Uber Gizmo reported that some might think that sentences up to life in prison are too harsh if car hacking is criminalized. While Senator Kowall said that high penalties have been proposed because there is great potential for severe injury and death when it comes to car hacking.
"I hope that we never have to use it," Senator Mike Kowall said. "That's why the penalties are what they are. The potential for severe injury and death are pretty high."
In order to prevent such accident to repeat again, on Saturday, the Michigan Senate introduced a bill targeting electronic car hacking activities. The new bill will criminalize car hacking as a serious offense with an up to life in prison sentence.