Charges filed against 'Love Bug' student

Philippines National Bureau of Investigation officials filed charges on Thursday against a student suspected of releasing the "ILOVEYOU" computer virus that stymied e-mail servers and caused billions of dollars of damage in May, national newspapers reported there.

Onel de Guzman, 23, was charged with theft under a Philippines law that traditionally covers credit card fraud. If convicted on both charges, Guzman could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to The Manila Times.

Only after Guzman's alleged crime did Philippine lawmakers seek to develop a new law that covers Internet crime. The new law, enacted a week ago, cannot be applied retroactively against Guzman, a former student at the Amable Mendoza Aguiluz Computer College in Manila.

The "ILOVEYOU" computer virus was released on May 4 and quickly crippled e-mail servers around the globe. Sam Bhavnani, a research analyst for Computer Economics Inc. in Carlsbad, California, said the "ILOVEYOU" virus' final global damage estimate reached US$8.7 billion.

The bug was sent to approximately 84 million users, and 2.5 million to 3 million were actually affected, Bhavnani said.

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