Via Joe, by way of Sebastian, comes this article proposing that Congress issue Letters of Marque to private(er) counter-hackers and pirates.

Long quote from the article:

According to the National Counterintelligence Executive, “tens of billions of dollars of trade secrets, technology and intellectual property are being siphoned each year from the computer systems of U.S. government agencies, corporations and research institutions.” According to the Chinese government, the Chinese government isn’t involved. The Chinese hackers are operating beyond national boundaries, floating around on the high seas of the Internet. If they are working, as China says, without government sanction, I say that makes them pirates. We, the people, are equipped to deal with pirates.

Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution enumerates the powers of Congress, which include the powers “to define and punish Piracies” and to “grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal.”

Letters of marque and reprisal are writs issued by governments for private organizations to attack enemies, and to respond to attacks, without direct government oversight. They’re thought of as creating privateers — government-sanctioned pirates. But strictly, a letter of marque permits a merchant ship to arm and defend itself against attacks from warships, privateers, and pirates. And in the process, take prizes.

Sounds like an idea whose time has come!