A group of chief technology officers (CTOs) from major software vendors have called on the US government to build a national cybercrime commission.

The 15 CTOs, under the auspices of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) trade group, met with congressional and White House leaders to discuss a range of IT issues including cybercrime, patent reform and more federal funding for research.

During the meeting, they asked the president to consider a cybercrime commission that would bring together computer users, lawmakers, enforcement officials and technology companies to talk about ways to fight ID theft and other online crime.

A commission could address a variety of solutions, including public education, new legislation and international treaties, the CTOs said during a press briefing afterwards. It could also raise the profile of cybercrime issues among lawmakers and consumers. "We don't want to say the sky is falling, but we wanted to bring people together and have a dialog," said Chris Voice, technology VP at Entrust.

Microsoft CTO Craig Mundie also argued that US laws lack strong cybercrime penalties. A criminal who steals one car can spend more time in jail than a hacker who causes millions of dollars in damage with a virus, he said. New legislation dealing with cybercrime could be one idea to emerge from the commission.

With new, sophisticated cybercrime activities, including phishing schemes, lawmakers and consumers need to pay more attention to cybercrime, added Christopher Bolin, McAfee CTO. "It's a completely different guy at the other end that we're used to dealing with," Bolin said. "This is not a pimple-faced kid who, when he gets a girlfriend, stops writing viruses. This is a guy with a business plan."

The White House officials did not commit to a cybercrime commission but seemed receptive to the idea, said Robert Holleyman, BSA president and chief executive officer.