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Ohio House Passes Bill for Faster Prosecution of Cyber Crimes

The Ohio House of Representatives voted in favor of the Ohio Computer Crimes Act, which, among other things, will allow for faster prosecution of cyber criminals by removing the need to calculate damages to victims.

Cyber criminal hacking server in dark room - editorial use only
Shutterstock/Dmytro Tyshchenko
(TNS) — The Ohio House of Representatives passed the Ohio Computer Crimes Act, or House Bill 116, this week. The act, sponsored by State Rep. Brian Baldridge, R-90, will reduce the frequency of cyber crimes by updating and modernizing Ohio's computer crimes laws.

"As technology continues to evolve, we need the Ohio Revised Code to continue to protect Ohioans online," Baldridge said. "Cyber criminals are hurting both private citizens and small businesses, and this bill will give Ohioans the ability to protect themselves."

Currently, the prosecution of cyber criminals in Ohio law is damages-based, meaning the value of the impacted computer-related items determines the severity of the penalty. The damages-based model is not reflective of the harm caused to businesses, however, noted Baldridge.

H.B. 116 will achieve three main goals:

  • Help Ohio prosecutors swiftly prosecute cyber criminals without trying to prove and calculate damages using limited and outdated statutes;
  • Recognize new categories of cyber crime; and
  • Extend a variety of stricter charges for prosecutors to pursue.

The Ohio Computer Crimes Act is a follow-up to Senate Bill 220, enacted in the 132nd General Assembly, which provided an affirmative defense from civil action for businesses who proactively invest in a cybersecurity program. Under H.B. 116, both private citizens and businesses will be allowed to bring a civil action against a person convicted of violating the law and may receive compensatory damages, attorney fees or other equitable relief.

Baldridge also noted that Attorney General Dave Yost has highlighted this issues in his continued warning to Ohioans of scams and phishing schemes.

"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, bad actors have used a crisis as an opportunity to invade our privacy and steal our information," Baldridge said. "I'd like to thank the many interested parties who have been a part of crafting this legislation, and I look forward seeing this important bill move through the legislature."

H.B. 116 will now head to the Senate for further consideration.

©2021 The Ironton Tribune, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.