Charges Dropped in 'Love Bug' Virus Case

ByABC News
August 21, 2000, 7:05 AM

M A N I L A, Philippines, Aug. 21 -- Prosecutors dismissed allcharges today filed against a former computer college student accused ofhaving released the ILOVEYOU computer virus that cripplede-mail systems worldwide.

The Department of Justice said the charges filed byinvestigators either did not apply to computer hacking, or therewas insufficient evidence to back them up.

Onel de Guzman, a former student at the Philippines AMAComputer College, has acknowledged that he may have released thevirus by accident, but refused to say whether he authored it.

The virus, unleashed May 4, rapidly replicated itself viae-mail, overloading corporate e-mail systems in many countries andcausing damage estimated at up to $10 billion.

New Legislation Cannot Apply

Until President Joseph Estrada signed a new law in June coveringelectronic commerce and computer hacking, the Philippines had nolaws specifically against computer crimes.

The new legislation, however, cannot be applied retroactively tothe Love Bug creator, and investigators instead charged deGuzman with traditional crimes such as theft and violation of a lawthat normally covers credit card fraud.

The Department of Justice ruled that the credit card law doesnot apply to computer hacking and that investigators did notpresent adequate evidence to support the theft charge.

The National Bureau of Investigation had waited more than amonth to file the charges against de Guzman while it attempted tofind applicable laws.

Tracing the Evidence

De Guzman failed to graduate earlier this year after AMAprofessors rejected his thesis proposal for a program which stealsInternet passwords, a feature of the Love Bug virus.

De Guzman became a suspect after AMA professors noticedsimilarities between his thesis proposal and the virus, andInternet service providers traced the virus to a telephone line inhis apartment.

NBI agents seized 17 computer diskettes, telephones and computeraccessories in a raid May 8 on the apartment, but found no computeror modem.