All change on the UK cybercrime legislation front

The British government has quietly announced a number of amendments and additions to the Computer Misuse Act 1990, which have been enshrined in the Police and Justice Bill 2006.

The Bill - which will be tabled in the House of Lords during the summer - seeks to cast a wider net over cybercriminals by creating new offences aimed at hackers and those who assist them.

The proposed legislation will make it an offence to be involved in the making, supplying or obtaining of articles for use in computer misuse offences, including hacking for the purpose of stealing information.

And now the bad news...

Some experts are claiming that the changes will effectively outlaw so-called network sniffing utilities, and even some IT security software which pro-actively analyses an organisation's network resources.

The problem, it seems, lies in the fact that many security packages can be loaded onto a company PC with little or no preparation, and carry out their analyses. Such tools, the experts argue, could be interpreted as contravening the new Bill.

Obviously, the Bill is still at the legislative discussion stage, but as history has shown, it's a very short step from a Bill at the discussion stage and its actual implementation into law.

Especially under HRH Tony Bliar's government - ably assisted, of course, by Prince Regent John Prescott, well-known croquet player and chief pie muncher of the City of Hull.

God help us all, is all I can say...