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Car Hackers Could be Sentenced to Life in Prison

With drive-by-wire functions becoming more commonplace in road cars – utilising computerised systems which control steering, brakes, and acceleration – lawmakers, as usual, are desperately scrambling to catch up with the latest innovations. So desperate, in fact, that new laws proposed in the US state of Michigan could punish hackers that compromise such systems with life in prison.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, and Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth, seeks to make it a felony 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,” a crime punishable by up to life imprisonment.

“I hope that we never have to use it,” Sen. Kowall said. “That’s why the penalties are what they are. The potential for severe injury and death are pretty high.”

A test conducted by Wired last year in which a Jeep Cherokee was hacked mid-drive exposed some of the glaring flaws in computerised automotive systems, and caused quite a stir amongst car manufacturers and law enforcement alike.

“Some of these people are pretty clever,” Kowall added. “As opposed to waiting for something bad to happen, we’re going to be proactive on this and try to keep up with technology.”

The bill has been submitted to the Michigan Senate’s Judiciary Committee for review.

Image courtesy of BMW Blog.

Ashley Allen

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