Maui News

US Sen. Schatz Co-Introduces Bipartisan Bill To Fight Cybercrime & Online Scams

August 5, 2021, 12:56 PM HST
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US Senator Schatz Brian. PC: Official headshot

US Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today introduced new legislation to fight cybercrime and help keep Americans safe from online scams.

The bipartisan Better Cybercrime Metrics Act will improve data collection on cybercrimes, giving law enforcement and policy makers more tools to understand the size and scope of cybercrime in the United States, according to a press release from Sen. Schatz.

“To protect people and fight online crimes, including hacks and scams, we need to understand how often, when and where it’s happening,” Sen. Schatz said. “Our bipartisan bill will equip us with the data we need to go after criminals and provide more support to victims of cybercrime.”

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are targets of cybercrime incidents that cost billions of dollars. Whether done through online scams and fraud, corporate data breaches or ransomware attacks, the cost of cybercrime has been increasing annually, from $3.5 billion in 2019 to $4.2 billion in 2020. It also impacts an estimated 300,000 to 700,000 cybercrime victims each year.

Unfortunately, these numbers are likely low, as there are no comprehensive metrics on the scale and impact of cybercrime in the United States, or on law enforcement efforts against them. Only 10 to 12 percent of all estimated cybercrime victims report cybercrime incidents in the United States, while other estimates have put that number much higher.

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The Better Cybercrime Metrics Act will give law enforcement a clearer picture of online crimes in the United States by requiring the FBI to integrate cybercrime incidents into its current reporting streams to better understand all the types of crime that Americans face. As cybercriminals continue to target vulnerable populations, this data will help lawmakers make an informed case for policy changes to curtail the cybercrime wave, keep Americans safe and bring these criminals to justice.

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The Better Cybercrime Metrics Act will:

  • Require the FBI to report metrics on cybercrime and cyber-enabled crime categories, just as they do for other types of property crime.
  • Encourage local and federal law enforcement agencies to report incidents of cybercrime in their jurisdictions to the FBI.
  • Authorize a study at the National Academies of Science to create a taxonomy for cybercrime incidents in consultation with federal, state, local and tribal stakeholders; criminologists; and business leaders that would inform the FBI’s reporting of cybercrime and cyber-enabled crime.
  • Require the Bureau of Justice Statistics at the Department of Justice and the Census Bureau to include questions related to cybercrime and cyber-enabled crime as part of its annual National Crime Victimization Survey.

“It is critical that cybercrime is counted in a systematic and complete manner,” said Eileen M. Decker, Lecturer at USC Gould Law School, a former United States Attorney and Police Commissioner. “Victims of cybercrime, particularly vulnerable victims such as minors, stalking victims and the elderly, deserve to have those crimes counted and the public deserves to know the nature and extent of cybercrime in our society.

“Comprehensive cybercrime data will help ensure robust training and increased resources to law enforcement to investigate cybercrimes, and improved public awareness about the pervasiveness of the cybercrime problem. This bill is an important step to achieving these goals.”

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The full text of the bill is available here.

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