China's top law enforcement and judicial authorities are working together on drafting a judicial interpretation to enable a tougher crackdown on Internet hacking, a senior police officer said.
Gu Jian, deputy head of the network security bureau under the Ministry of Public Security, said the ministry is working with the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate to draft the legal document clarifying the conviction and penalty for hacking.
"China has become the main victim of Internet hacking amid a growing number of transnational cyber crimes", he told China Daily in an interview.
"We aim to draw up uniform sentencing standards for Internet hacking through the judicial interpretation."
The most prevalent Internet crimes in China include online obscenity and pornography, gambling, fraud, hacking attacks, the sale of illegal products and copyright violation, according to Gu.
He said Internet crime has become integrated and coalesced into chains of interests, with different groups assuming responsibility for different tasks.
"There was a point when eight out of every 10 computers connected to the Internet in China was controlled by botnets (malicious software)," Gu said, adding that 200 government websites have been attacked by hackers, 80 percent of whom are from overseas.
Li Jiaming, head of the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center, said 1.64 million complaints have been received since June 2006 and the number continues to grow rapidly.
"The public is most concerned about online pornography and fraud," Li said. "Pornography accounts for 48.5 percent of the complaints received and 32.6 percent are about fraud.
"The other 18.9 percent of complaints are mainly about the online infringement of copyright and viruses."
The invasion and destruction of computer information systems have been included in China's Criminal Law.
The crimes of illegally controlling computer information systems, the theft of network accounts and other destructive practices have also been written into the latest draft amendment to the law.
But the stipulations in the Criminal Law are still considered to be too general for effective law enforcement.
Xiao Zhonghua, a law professor at Renmin University of China, said the judicial interpretation is expected to further detail what comprises an Internet attack, which will facilitate the implementation of the law and enable online crimes to be cracked more effectively.
The interpretation may also offer standards for sentencing such crimes, he said.
"However, our laws concerning online attacks still lag behind the pace at which the Internet is developing," he said. "Lawmakers need to catch up with the latest developments and the police need to improve their techniques for conducting criminal investigations."
Qian Jun, a Beijing lawyer who specializes in Internet cases, said law enforcement authorities need to place online attacks higher on their agendas.
Locating and arresting overseas hackers remains an outstanding problem, he said.
"The Ministry of Public Security should enhance cooperation with international judicial organizations and establish agreements on Internet attacks," Qian said.
Gu said it is also essential for China to seek more bilateral agreements on judicial assistance in fighting online crimes.