Brazil approves stricter legislation to tackle online crime

Cybercriminals can face up to 8 years in prison under the updated legislation.

The Brazilian government has passed new legislation introducing tougher measures against fraud and crimes perpetrated in digital environments.

According to the law 14.155 sanctioned last Thursday (27), the Brazilian Penal Code has been altered to add more stringent penalties in relation to device invasion, theft and misconduct in digital media environments, as well as crimes committed with the information provided by someone induced to or erroneously through fraudulent emails, social networks, or contacts via telephone.

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Crimes that are included in the scope of the new legislation include cloning of messaging apps such as WhatsApp, whereby criminals can, for example, request money from the victim's contacts, and phishing. Brazil is a world leader in phishing attacks, with one in five Internet users in the country targeted at least once in 2020.

The updated law establishes sentences and fines with the length of jail terms increasing if the victim suffers economic damage, for crimes relating to the invasion of electronic devices such as smartphones and computers as the objective of obtaining, tampering with or destroying information without the consent of users, or with the goal of installing software to obtain an illicit advantage.

Moreover, the updated law also relates to theft through fraud via an electronic device, with or without the violation of security mechanisms in place, or through the use of malicious software, or by any other fraudulent means.

Under the recently sanctioned legislation, sentences for cybercriminals can range between 1 to 8 years in addition to fines, with penalties increasing if crimes are committed through server infrastructure based outside Brazil, or if the victim is elderly or vulnerable.

The introduction of tougher penalties for cybercriminals In Brazil follows legislation passed in March that criminalize stalking online and in physical environments. The penalty for such practices, which can be amplified through social networks, is a jail term that can range between 6 months to 2 years, in addition to a fine.