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Japan Criminalizes Virus Creation 79

Posted by timothy
from the they're-bad-for-the-giant-lizards dept.
camperslo writes with this excerpt from mainichi.jp: "Japan's parliament enacted legislation Friday criminalizing the creation or distribution of computer viruses to crack down on the growing problem of cybercrimes, but critics say the move could infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed privacy of communications. With the bill to revise the Penal Code passing the House of Councillors by an overwhelming majority, the government intends to conclude the Convention on Cybercrime, a treaty that stipulates international cooperation in investigating crimes in cyberspace.'" Adds camperslo: "This legislation is a major move for Japan since the constitution there provides for privacy of communications, in sharp contrast with some other countries."
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Japan Criminalizes Virus Creation

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now all they need is total body augmentation and a national neural network and then they'll have ghost in the shell for real

  • Is fork now to be illegal (in Japan) as it replicates code?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I must say I don't see any problem with this. What's a virus you ask? Well that's what a jury is for deciding. I trust the common man to be able to understand these things, and if they need help there are people who are experts in these things. Virus scanners give me complete confidence that nothing will ever be improperly flagged as a virus or missed.
      Not to mention, this law avoid all the complications of deciding on the intent of a virus writer. There could NEVER be a good reason for a virus to be wr

      • nicely done, until the last line I was having a bit of a problem with poes law.

      • Re:What's a virus? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday June 17, 2011 @08:39AM (#36473068) Homepage

        You mean "lay judges" [wikipedia.org], not a jury.

        Still, that's an improvement over Japan's previous 98% conviction rate by judges. Part of that is the underfunded police force only investigates and prosecutes open-and-shut cases, and part of it is that judges tend to believe that and convict out of hand.

        • by Plekto (1018050)

          Actually, it's 99.7%, and their lay judge system is only currently used for murder cases. Even then, it's really that the people act more like a Grand Jury and get to ask questions and be part of the process rather than actually make any decision. The judge still has all of the actual control and say, and given Japanese social and legal norms, the "jury" (if it can be called that) pretty much goes along with him.

          It's only two years old as well. In essence, nothing has changed and it's a sham that's simi

      • There could NEVER be a good reason for a virus to be written for research or private use, and with this law juries can rightfully just assume the ill intent of the creator.

        What about the situation where a software developer creates a tool for some legitimate purpose, that some lowlife then decides to co-opt for malicious purposes?

        To be sure, the guy on the stand is the ne'er-do-well, but the creator who had nothing but good intentions could get unnecessarily tied up in this somehow.

        • The first well known virus to spread extensively in the wild was the Morris Worm. The virus used a buffer overrun exploit to infect the machine but the unchecked replication kicked in because of a rather simple mistake Morris made in his code.
      • From TFA: "The legislation makes the creation or distribution of a computer virus without a reasonable cause punishable by up to three years in prison or 500,000 yen in fines, and the acquisition or storage of one punishable by up to two years in prison or 300,000 yen in fines." Reasonable cause is included in the law... so half your sarcasm was wasted. What a shame.
    • by Smallpond (221300)

      Is fork now to be illegal (in Japan) as it replicates code?

      No. But a Quine might be. Try explaining it to a jury.

      So the sole purpose of this program is to make a copy of itself?

  • Privacy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee (775178)

    Criminalizing creation may be a privacy issue, criminalizing distribution is not.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Honestly this looks quite tame compared to the norms in Europe. Virus creation is only illegal without a "good cause", in other words there is a provision for research and proof-of-concept code. Sending pornographic spam will become illegal, which it already is in Europe anyway (especially if you spam a child with it). Names of email senders and recipients will be kept for 60 days on request, well in the EU they also log the subject and other headers for 2 years.

      Clearly they needed some kind of law because

    • And its hard to monitor it especially to those pro ones.
  • Please, criminalize also the creation of biological ones!
  • It also makes it punishable to send e-mail messages containing pornographic images to a random number of people.

    So you can send pr0n to a non-random number of people? How is "random" defined? "Your honour, I will now demonstrate that my client arrived at the number 42 by a fully deterministic markovian process, thereby proving that his goatse spam wasn't sent to a random number of people. For my definition of 'random' I draw your attention to the writings of the 13th-century German philosopher Noodleheinz who said that ...

    • by rossdee (243626)

      Maybe they mean its the people, not the number that is picked at random.

      • Maybe they mean its the people, not the number that is picked at random.

        In which case the poster should have written "a number of random people", however, wouldn't this have the same problem? How can you prove that the people were selected randomly rather than deterministically? It's difficult for external observers to infer intent.

    • by Ooki (1576979)
      It will be legal as you include the probability distribution the random number was sampled from (and the method of sampling) in the p0rn emails. Numbers picked without a probability distribution is strictly illegal and should be punished.
  • but I read the headline as "Japan customizes virus creation" which, itself, is entirely possible aswell.
  • and any reproductive activity thereof, or even worse, creative activity to generate pathogens

    - to be criminal

    and will be from now on punished through criminal law and high/hay fever!

    God, be warned, you may get punished!

    • Q: Why is starting a slashdot comment in the Subject: line incredibly irritating?
      • by dargaud (518470)
        Oh, so you must have been one of those famed 'bottom poster' of Usenet lore, who forces everybody else to scroll down 2 pages of quotes to read your 'me too!' addition. One reads the subject before the message, so I don't see why it would break the flow.
        • I rarely if ever read subject lines, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Why read a meta-comment when I want to read actual comments? The subject can be inferred from the comment they are replying to or TFA. I read at -1 which means there are many comments, but little time. Subject line starters get skipped.

          TL;DR: Don't start your comment in the subject line, it's annoying, and you will be ignored.

  • If this law is too broad it can actually do harm. Would bad code that contains bugs be illegal as well? How are they categorizing it?

  • The legislation makes the creation or distribution of a computer virus without a reasonable cause punishable by up to three years in prison or 500,000 yen in fines, and the acquisition or storage of one punishable by up to two years in prison or 300,000 yen in fines.

    I hope it's a bit more defined than that, because getting infected with a virus could lead up to a $3700 USD fine if it isn't.

    • The legislation makes the creation or distribution of a computer virus without a reasonable cause punishable by up to three years in prison or 500,000 yen in fines, and the acquisition or storage of one punishable by up to two years in prison or 300,000 yen in fines.

      I hope it's a bit more defined than that, because getting infected with a virus could lead up to a $3700 USD fine if it isn't.

      One would think the "reasonable cause" section applies to the second clause.

    • by camperslo (704715)

      I hope it's a bit more defined than that, because getting infected with a virus could lead up to a $3700 USD fine if it isn't.

      It wouldn't be fair to judge a law based on a brief summary. Also, some of the reporting out of Japan occasionally loses something in the translation.

      The events of this year have given many of us an opportunity to contrast some other cultures with our own.

      This story surprised me in revealing that Japan had apparently gone this long without law covering some of the things that have happened. Perhaps the attacks on Sony play a significant role in driving the change. This also pushes Japan towards what some

  • Will they make it illegal to make a tool that can make a virus? What about the tools that make the tools?
    • by Stan92057 (737634)
      This is the same thing as saying the gun maker is at fault. Just because a tool can do bad things it shouldn't be banned,why punish everyone. Punish the ones who use it for criminal acts that's the way it should always be.
  • Because when viruses are illegal only criminals will have viruses!

  • Between autonomous software agents and malicious virus. Intent is all.

  • Japan's constitution has guaranteed privacy of communications. I am awed.
  • Its not Japan outlawing computer virus research. Its only a "timely" story.

    What's pathetic is France outlawing individual data encryption. No Frenchman should be criticizing the Japanese with THAT ridiculous law on the books, along with banning clothing.

  • Now when the aliens attack, Jeff Goldblum will be a criminal when he tries to save us from the aliens with his computer virus.
  • by Plekto (1018050) on Friday June 17, 2011 @11:48AM (#36475376)

    As I mentioned in a couple of days ago concerning CCP being targeted by these people, this sort of legislation is the obvious result of their actions. Even if it is a decentralized group of fanboys and people who want to make a statement or just rail against the establishment, it's clear that this law was passed in direct response to Sony's bidding/what happened to them recently.

    All that happens is that the more that they do stunts like they've been doing recently, the quicker the governments around the world tighten their grip on the rest of us and make us all suffer under a virtual online police-state. They think it's bad now? They have no idea how bad it could possibly get. Most of the Internet operates due to the good will and charity of the world's governments. And they're running out of patience very very quickly as of late.

    • by camperslo (704715)

      All that happens is that the more that they do stunts like they've been doing recently, the quicker the governments around the world tighten their grip on the rest of us and make us all suffer under a virtual online police-state.

      With that it mind, it is probably fair to wonder if some governments might foster some attacks for that reason or to discredit any apparent social statements being made. Some may consider some targets unexpected. PBS???

      • by Plekto (1018050)

        Possibly, but the targets make no sense, really, if that was the objective. The pattern is solidly that of stupid kids trying to make some sort of statement or having an axe to grind. And I say stupid, because if any of them happen to be reading this, you ARE making them crack down harder and faster with your actions.

  • Though it may be wrong to criminalize the creation of viri, I just have to say: Thank you Japan, thank you.

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