January 26, 2006 7:03 AM PST

U.K. cybercriminals threatened with 10-year term

Cybercriminals in the United Kingdom face the prospect of tougher sentences and modernized laws to ensure a greater number of convictions for computer-related crimes.

A Police and Justice Bill introduced Wednesday by the Home Office includes sections relating specifically to the modernization of U.K. law to better deal with those who have committed Internet-related crime.

Although the bill recommends reform for general areas of U.K. law enforcement--ranging from dealing with school truants to greater stop-and-search powers for police--the fifth section, entitled "Miscellaneous," includes important revisions to the current Computer Misuse Act (CMA), including a suggested maximum 10-year prison sentence for individuals maliciously impairing the operation of a computer, or hindering or preventing the access to programs or data.

The wording of the bill suggests that such revisions would encompass acts such as denial-of-service attacks, not currently covered by the CMA, as well as crimes such as the random or targeted distribution of malicious code.

Obtaining physical or digital tools with the intent and prior knowledge to commit cybercrimes is also covered and would carry a maximum sentence of 12 months.

That the revisions to the CMA are bundled with a wider bill is a positive sign, according to Derek Wyatt, a longtime proponent of reform to the current CMA.

Wyatt told Silicon.com that it is "good news all round," adding that its inclusion in the miscellaneous section of a longer bill has greatly increased the chances of success.

"This is about the only way it could have been added to a major bill," he said, adding that many of the recommendations are "in line with" what he proposed in a 10-minute rule bill last year calling for changes to the CMA.

"This is more or less what we wanted," Wyatt said.

Will Sturgeon of Silicon.com reported from London.

8 comments

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Reality Check
While there is some vague truth to the claim that malware authors and other mischieve makers cause financial harm to business, and the worst of them take money or setup problems for those that can least afford it, there needs to be a reality check here.

Rapists don't get 10 year sentences, often less than five unless there are multiple victims.

Some murderers get less than 10 year sentences.

Most people committing manslaughter get under 7 years.

So while there can be no doubt that some people suffer badly, the idea that they suffer as much as a rape victim or someone whose been killed is ridiculous.

10 years is way over the top.
Posted by ajbright (447 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reality bites
You may be comparing the average amount of time rapists and murderers serve vs a proposed sentence length for this activity. It would be better (and were it part of the story it would help make it clearer) if you could compare proposed sentence lengths for those crimes vs this proposed sentence.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Reality Check
While there is some vague truth to the claim that malware authors and other mischieve makers cause financial harm to business, and the worst of them take money or setup problems for those that can least afford it, there needs to be a reality check here.

Rapists don't get 10 year sentences, often less than five unless there are multiple victims.

Some murderers get less than 10 year sentences.

Most people committing manslaughter get under 7 years.

So while there can be no doubt that some people suffer badly, the idea that they suffer as much as a rape victim or someone whose been killed is ridiculous.

10 years is way over the top.
Posted by ajbright (447 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reality bites
You may be comparing the average amount of time rapists and murderers serve vs a proposed sentence length for this activity. It would be better (and were it part of the story it would help make it clearer) if you could compare proposed sentence lengths for those crimes vs this proposed sentence.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Hmmm, where is justice?
Alas, whilst this applies, to individuals only, whilst trans national corporations still selling free cyber terrorism DRM rootkits with audio cd's in the UK, like SONY BMG, have no problems abusing this law without penalty!

Question is, where is justice then?
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hmmm, where is justice?
Alas, whilst this applies, to individuals only, whilst trans national corporations still selling free cyber terrorism DRM rootkits with audio cd's in the UK, like SONY BMG, have no problems abusing this law without penalty!

Question is, where is justice then?
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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