- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A Utah lawmaker wants people who hack into computers running key infrastructure such as traffic lights and water treatment facilities to face years in prison.

There have been more of these types of hacking incidents in the last few years in the state, said Major Brian Redd of the State Bureau of Investigation. This is a result of technology becoming more advanced and many more infrastructure systems linking to the Internet, he said.

Eagle Mountain Republican Rep. David Lifferth, who introduced the plan, said in a news conference on Thursday that the current law is outdated, so it doesn’t reflect the types of cybercrime happening today.

The current punishment for hacking into such important systems is less than a year in jail, Redd said.

Lifferth’s proposal also includes a similar penalty for the increasing attacks of swatting, where an individual falsely alerts law enforcement to a crime at someone’s house so they can watch the commotion online as SWAT or some other law enforcement team responds to what they think is a dire situation. These types of situations can be dangerous for the person in the house, he said.

In the last few years, there have been at least a half dozen of these types of incidents in Utah, Redd said.

Other states have made similar adjustments to their laws and increased the penalty for hacking, he said.

Lifferth said he introduced this proposal after working with industry members and law enforcement to determine which crimes happening in Utah are not being adequately addressed in state law. It is expected to be heard in a House of Representatives technology committee meeting.

The proposal originally included a more severe punishment for doxxing, which is when an individual posts someone’s phone number or bank account information online so people will steal it. Lifferth said he removed this section because there was a lot of confusion around it, but he expects to address it in a future legislative session.

“It’s a heavy lift right now to get everyone to come to the table,” he said.

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