Computer Misuse Act 1990
The Computer Misuse Act 1990 was passed to deal with a number of misuses as the use of computers became widespread.
The Act makes it an offence to:
- Deliberately plant or transfer viruses to a computer system to cause damage to programs and data.
- Use an organisation’s computer to carry out unauthorised work.
- Hack into someone else’s computer system with a view to seeing the information or altering it.
Problems with Gaining Prosecutions
- In order to prosecute someone the police would need to prove that they did the misuse deliberately.
- For example, if you had a virus on your flash drive from home and took it to work and put it into a computer and it transferred a virus, this is an easy thing to do unknowingly
- Some organisations would not want others to know that their security has been compromised; so many cases go unreported and unpunished.
Offences: Section 1
A person is guilty of an offence if:
a) He/she causes a computer to perform any function with intent to secure access to any program or data held in any computer
b) The access he/she intends to secure is unauthorised
c) He/she knows at the time that it is unauthorised
The maximum sentence for an offence under this section of the Act is six months’ imprisonment.
- A person will be guilty of an offence under Section 2 of the Act if he/she commits an offence under Section 1 of the Act with the intent of committing a further offence such as blackmail, theft or any other offence which has a penalty of at least five years’ imprisonment.
- They will also be guilty if they get someone else to do this further offence. The maximum sentence for an offence under this section of the Act is five years’ imprisonment.
A person is guilty of an offence under this section of the Act if he/she does any act which causes an unauthorised modification of the contents of any computer, and at the time that he/she knows that the modification is unauthorised and he/she has the requisite intent.
The requisite intent is intent to cause a modification and by so doing:
a) To impair the operation of any computer
b) To prevent or hinder access to any program or data
c) To impair the operation of any program or reliability of any data