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A Thin Line in the Legislation

Silicon reports (opens in new tab)today that Members of Parliament are preparing to get tough on hackers as the law on computer misuse and hacking is revised.

For some years now, critics of the Computer Misuse Act (opens in new tab)(CMA) 1990 have said that gaps in the legislation have made it very hard to prosecute anyone.

As a result, this summer the CMA will be updated by the new Police and Justice Bill, which will increase the scope and strengthen the sanctions available against hackers.

Concerns were previously expressed over the thin lime between “Admin” and hacking tools and following consultations, the government made an alteration to the bill to shift the focus from specific hacking tools to the intent behind their use.

A Home Office spokesman told "The amendment widens the idea of intent for when a person uses an article with the intent to commit an offence. It makes a differentiation and protects those who supply tools for legal use."

"Whilst the existing offences require the criminal to have knowledge that their access or modification was unauthorised, this may be insufficient to protect the information security specialist who develops software to try to penetrate his clients' systems, he said.

He added: "A better interpretation would be that the software tool in question has to have been designed or adapted specifically with a view to the commission of an offence."