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Japan Criminalizes Virus Creation

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the they're-bad-for-the-giant-lizards dept.

Crime 79

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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Public Security Section 9 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472536)

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

Re:Public Security Section 9 (1)

blarghmaster (2252372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472604)

and then half the world cashes in on 1-way tickets...

Re:Public Security Section 9 (1)

Serpents (1831432) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472798)

and then they'll have ghost in the shell for real

and the next step is "Vexille"

What's a virus? (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472542)

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

Re:What's a virus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472554)

It would have to self-replicate to qualify, I'm sure

Re:What's a virus? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472564)

Anyone care to define their understanding of a "virus"!

  • Code that annoys users - Windows
  • Code that crashes programs/services - Windows
  • Code that prevent a user from accessing basic functions - Windows

You reckon Bill is going to goto China any time soon? After all, it states everywhere that HE created Windows.

Re:What's a virus? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472614)

I think you're confusing created with stole.

Re:What's a virus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36474894)

and Japan with China.

Re:What's a virus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472670)

The things you outlined also define GNOME.

Re:What's a virus? (1)

L-four (2071120) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472762)

Why do people insist on installing viruses on perfectly good terminals..

Re:What's a virus? (3, Insightful)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472760)

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 written for research or private use, and with this law juries can rightfully just assume the ill intent of the creator. And if, for some reason someone like law enforcement needed to write a virus to protect us, we can be confident that the law won't be applied in their case since realistically you just have to selectively apply laws.
I've run out of sarcasm.

Re:What's a virus? (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472932)

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

Re:What's a virus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472964)

The complete confidence in a virus scanner to never improperly flag anything is a misplaced confidence. It has already happened in the past that a wrong system file was flagged and placed in quarantine rendering the operating system broken.

Re:What's a virus? (3, Informative)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473068)

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.

Re:What's a virus? (1)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475154)

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 similar to their laws concerning porn that they passed a few years ago to get the U.S. off their backs - which everyone simply ignores. Business goes on as usual. It's no improvement at all, really, because by the time you get to that stage, IF you are granted such a trial, you're already assumed to be guilty and it's basically a matter of whether you're goign to be executed or be given a prison sentence.

As you can imagine, don't EVER get into trouble in Japan. Their prisons are brutally harsh as well as they see it as a time for the prisoner to be punished for their crimes on a daily basis in order to reform their ways. ie - you're guilty, so therefore their "job" is to make your life such hell that you'll never come back again. It works (virtually zero repeat offender rate), but it's also like something out of a WWII movie.

Anyways.. back to the discussion...

Re:What's a virus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495142)

This new legislation is very concerning, given the wide range of powers that Japanese prosecutors are given. This includes: 23 days of interrogation without a lawyer after arrest, usually resulting in signed confessions, and the possiblity this time can be stretch to up to 2 months!

Re:What's a virus? (1)

egyptiankarim (765774) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473086)

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.

Re:What's a virus? (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473696)

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.

Re:What's a virus? (1)

PoolOfThought (1492445) | more than 3 years ago | (#36478062)

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.

Re:What's a virus? (2)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473254)

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?

Re:What's a virus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36478664)

Yep. You have to use chopStick();

Privacy (1, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472544)

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

Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472648)

They should criminalize possession.

Re:Disagree (1)

egyptiankarim (765774) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473106)

IANAL but aren't there are other realms in the law where mere possession can be considered intent to distribute?

Re:Disagree (1)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473144)

They should criminalize possession.

With the penalty being that they seize and destroy your virus-ridden, spam-spewing computer.

Re:Disagree (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36478608)

They should criminalize possession.

With the penalty being that they seize and destroy your virus-ridden, spam-spewing computer.

Wouldn't THAT bring the Windows marketshare numbers down in a helluva hurry? ;-)

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472668)

Criminalizing creation may be a privacy issue

No it isn't. Permitting certain types of evidence gathering may be a privacy issue which may make it hard to catch offenders but that doesn't mean there's a privacy issue in outlawing virus creation itself.

Re:Privacy (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472824)

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 in the past they have had to go after virus writers for copyright infringement on the cartoon characters they copied.

Re:Privacy (1)

erinpolerimos (2213640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473580)

And its hard to monitor it especially to those pro ones.

More general it'd be better (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472550)

Please, criminalize also the creation of biological ones!

Re:More general it'd be better (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472726)

Creating new biological weapons is already illegal by international treaties.

Re:More general it'd be better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472934)

Not all vira are weapons...

Re:More general it'd be better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473788)

What about vaccines?

Re:More general it'd be better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36474340)

Creation is OK. However, we could punish reproduction and distribution of dangerous ones -like HIV- with the death penalty.
Oh, wait...

Re:More general it'd be better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36474348)

Shit I better not catch a cold, I'll be guilty of creating viruses!

Something lost in translation there (2)

arglebargle_xiv (2212710) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472562)

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 ...

Re:Something lost in translation there (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472586)

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

Re:Something lost in translation there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472696)

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

So it's still okay to send goatse to a set of specific people? That's a relief.

Re:Something lost in translation there (1)

Marc Madness (2205586) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472700)

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.

Re:Something lost in translation there (1)

Ooki (1576979) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472684)

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.

Re:Something lost in translation there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473842)

The original article says "unspecified large number of people".

Going backwards... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472574)

Why can't they understand that this sort of legislation is totally counter productive?

White hats writing viruses actually improves security as it allows vulnerabilities to be detected and fixed, and the virus payloads will be benign.

Black hats aren't likely to care that virus writing is illegal!

Virus's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472590)

Virus's are so 1990's

Meanwhile, in the basement of a Japanese black hat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472594)

Hacker 1: Oh, man! This virus is going to do so much damage!
Hacker 2: Oh no! The legislature has just made writing a virus illegal!
Hacker 1: Blast and damnation! Foiled! I can no longer work on my illegal viruses, because they made the development of them illegal! I also wish I knew how to speak without using exclamation points!

END

Re:Meanwhile, in the basement of a Japanese black (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472674)

This is so that if the hackers are caught the police can actually charge them with something.

Re:Meanwhile, in the basement of a Japanese black (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472810)

If they haven't released the virus, then they haven't done anything wrong. This is the same type of law as assuming someone who wants enough cold medicine to relieve a cold must be cooking meth. Why not just create a pre-crime department and be done with it?

Re:Meanwhile, in the basement of a Japanese black (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472874)

If they haven't sold the meth, they haven't done anything wrong as well, eh?

Re:Meanwhile, in the basement of a Japanese black (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473002)

More and more states have been decriminalizing possession of small quantities of marijuana. Why not?

its probably because its only 7:30 (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472654)

but I read the headline as "Japan customizes virus creation" which, itself, is entirely possible aswell.

I hereby declare the existence of pathogens (1)

kubitus (927806) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472690)

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!

A: Because it breaks the flow of a message (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472740)

Q: Why is starting a slashdot comment in the Subject: line incredibly irritating?

Re:A: Because it breaks the flow of a message (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472830)

It's no way near as retarded as you.

Does the term (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472842)

"anal" irritate you as well?

Re:A: Because it breaks the flow of a message (0)

dargaud (518470) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473152)

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.

Re:A: Because it breaks the flow of a message (1)

captain_sweatpants (1997280) | more than 3 years ago | (#36474476)

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.

pseudo-code on paper too? (2)

Israfels (730298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472720)

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?

It's also illegal to store a virus (1, Interesting)

discord5 (798235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472734)

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.

Re:It's also illegal to store a virus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472770)

Now that would help the anti virus industry

Re:It's also illegal to store a virus (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473388)

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.

Re:It's also illegal to store a virus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36473390)

In the UK, it is often said that "ignorance is no defence". However, this is incomplete. The correct saying should be "ignorance OF THE LAW is no defence." Ignorance that you were breaking it can be, and often is, used as a defence. A similar law in the UK, therefore, would not apply to anyone that had contracted a virus and either a) was unaware of it, or b) had made a reasonable effort to remove it. I would hope that there is similar provision in Japan. Interestingly, however, this would NOT exempt anyone from prosecution who acquired a virus and did not take steps to remove it. Obviously, all of this is speculation, I'm unfamiliar with the Japanese legal system.

Re:It's also illegal to store a virus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36477062)

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.

Quick! Start uploading as much malware as you can to the computers owned and operated by members of the Diet!

Re:It's also illegal to store a virus (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#36478184)

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 other countries have been doing in international agreements (also covering potentially invasive things like dealing with P2P issues)

It was news to me that Japan has constitutional protection of privacy of electronic communications. A law that opens the door to invading that, even with good cause, is a major change for them. Privacy is taken very seriously in Japan. I didn't realize how seriously until I saw a story which mentioned that the electric utilities didn't do background checks on employees (not officially anyway), because they were invasive of privacy.

I think it would be shortsighted to view this as a story that is simply about malware. The bigger social issues of constitutional protections and privacy are worth a close look. 9/11 had a significant impact on important regulations in the U.S. It seems that the attacks on Sony may be in part driving some changes in Japan. Cross-cultural issues of interest go beyond malware and practices of managing power plants. We shouldn't forget to step back and see the wider social issues tied to these technology-related stories.

In Japan you catch the flu... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36472746)

and go to jail!

Metacrime (2)

biodata (1981610) | more than 3 years ago | (#36472918)

Will they make it illegal to make a tool that can make a virus? What about the tools that make the tools?

Re:Metacrime (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475938)

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.

Banish Windoze (0)

alienoide (2277338) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473116)

They should criminalize MS Windows.

Legislate computer programming NOW! (1)

boyfaceddog (788041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473168)

Because when viruses are illegal only criminals will have viruses!

A thin line.. (1)

Martin Spamer (244245) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473582)

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

Holy crap (1)

Eulogistics (905277) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473802)

Japan's constitution has guaranteed privacy of communications. I am awed.

What's really pathetic (1)

slashdot_commentator (444053) | more than 3 years ago | (#36474172)

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.

What about alien attacks? (1)

Crock23A (1124275) | more than 3 years ago | (#36474984)

Now when the aliens attack, Jeff Goldblum will be a criminal when he tries to save us from the aliens with his computer virus.

Thank you, LulzSec (2)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Thank you, LulzSec (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#36478428)

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???

Re:Thank you, LulzSec (1)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36480748)

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.

Re:Thank you, LulzSec (1)

randyleepublic (1286320) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482732)

Good! The harder and faster they crack down the sooner we can face facts: our governments are like cancer and need to be excised.

Sony rootkit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36475668)

How would this law have been applied to Sony when they deployed their rootkit?

About time.. (1)

chibiskuld (907068) | more than 3 years ago | (#36477542)

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

so they are banning weindows finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36477778)

yippy

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