US to freeze assets of hackers, throw them out of the country

Involved in cybercrime? Don't count on a visa to protect you.

china bill hacker revoke visa frozen financial bank assets united states

Lawmakers in the U.S. have proposed legislation which will deny hackers entry to the United States and freeze the assets of foreign nationals.

The Cyber Economic Espionage Accountability Act was revealed on Thursday, and allows U.S. authorities to "punish criminals backed by China, Russia or other foreign governments for cyberspying and theft."

Reps. Mike Rogers, Tim Ryan and Sen. Ron Johnson, bipartisan members of the House and Senate, say that the bill will send a clear message to nations endorsing cybercriminals, and that "this behavior will no longer be tolerated."

"Theft of U.S. intellectual property is costing our economy an estimated $300 billion a year. It costs American jobs, innovation, and threatens national security," said Senator Ron Johnson. "It's time there are repercussions for these brazen acts taken by foreign actors. This bill is a simple, common-sense measure. It directs the Administration to develop a list of cyber spies, make that list public, and enforce penalties for those bad actors."

Rogers mentions China by name, saying that there are currently "no real consequences" for the theft of American intellectual property.

The act calls for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute more foreign nationals who are involved in the theft of intellectual property and economic warfare. In addition, the bill would deny hackers the right to apply for visas to enter the United States. If they are currently within the country, those involved in cybercrime take the risk of having visas revoked and financial assets frozen.

Xi Jinping, the newly-installed Chinese president, will be visiting the U.S. this weekend to hold talks with U.S. President Obama over a range of issues including trade relations, the situation in North Korea and the rising threat of cybercrime. Talks will be held in California.