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Legal Update: New Computer Misuse Act

Posted: 06-May-2015 15:55:00
Author: Chris Raske


Until recent months, under the Computer Misuse Act, the maximum punishment that can be imposed for the most serious computer hacking offences is a 10 year jail sentence and/or a fine.

The government have quietly updated the Computer Misuse and as of the 3rd May, life imprisonment will be a possible consequence for breach of the new rules.

Amendments to the act were passed in March as an addition to the Serious Crime Bill and details of the changes were revealed at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. 

The reformed Computer Misuse Act will introduce a new offence whereby a person will be guilty if:
  • They create a significant risk of serious damage of a material kind;
  • Where the activity is unauthorised and known to be unauthorised; and
  • Where the person either intended to cause serious damage or was reckless as to whether such damage was caused.

Damage of a material kind is defined as damage done to the human welfare of any place, the environment of any place, the economy of any country or the national security of any country.

Generally, Individuals convicted of breaching the new Computer Misuse Act rules will face up to 14 years in jail and/or a fine. However if an individual’s actions cause or create a significant risk of loss to human life, illness or injury, or serious damage to national security they could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

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