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Contrary to popular belief, the law is reasonably well equipped to deal with computer crime and has been substantially strengthened by recent legislation. Discuss

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Introduction

"Contrary to popular belief, the law is reasonably well equipped to deal with computer crime and has been substantially strengthened by recent legislation." Discuss This statement, made by Bainbridge,1 requires the examination and evaluation of both statute and common law used to address the phenomenon of computer crime and to access whether it/they is/are reasonably able to, in the light of recent legislation, deter, deprive, enforce and punish those that commit certain acts in this ever developing information technology age. Forty years ago computer usage was unusual; however people now consistently use computers and the internet. A recent report found "the internet to be rife with crime, current legislation to control it seriously lacking and public mistrust and fear extremely high."2 One of the main reasons for the popular belief that the law is not reasonably equipped is because criminal law tends to be reactive and whatever amendments to existing legislation are made, or new legislation enacted, to combat e-crimes3 the law, as rarely being forward thinking nor speedy enough, due to the processes it has to go through, will struggle to keep up with the speed of changes in information technology and that computers can be tools to commit crimes or can be targeted by criminals. It is the regulation of individuals and not necessarily the activity itself which is of concern e.g. hacking4 was originally something which was carried out by those with advanced technological skills but which developed into cracking.5 Paul Wright,6 who counts himself among those who feel computer crime cannot be sufficiently dealt with under current legislation, stated recently that computer crime is "...perceived to suffer from an increased tendency to 'legislative dependence... digital crime develops and changes very rapidly and it takes years for legislation to be enacted, by which time the crime and criminal will have developed a different form of modus operandi." 7 A computer is not defined in statute.8 However, Lord Hoffman defined it as "a device for storing, processing9 and retrieving information."10 Additionally ...read more.

Middle

The speed at which technology evolves and the process and speed at which legislation is implemented means that any law is only adequate at that particular time it is drafted. The recent case of McKinnon v USA158 for offences under s2 CMA committed from the UK but target and damage caused in USA shows that it may be better to be tried under one country's laws than those of another. Many people, as a result of computer technological advances, now bank on-line and buy goods and services over the internet from others who may be based here in the UK or overseas. Cyber frauds are developing from the familiar fraudulent use of credit cards, as the cards themselves need not be used,159 to raiding these e-bank accounts. There are already critics who are concerned that anyone who makes software tools, which could be used for legitimate as well as illegal hacking, could be criminalised as legislative provisions do not make any difference for the reasons for their use. However, s3A CMA160 will require enforcement agencies and the judiciary to ascertain whether any offences161 have been satisfied as articles can be quite legally made, supplied etc before convicting. Paul Mobbs162 stated: "...it is difficult to clamp down on computer-based crime by legislating against certain types of activity without affecting others...many innocent people could be covered as part of efforts to control a very small minority of 'Net users." 163 Furthermore, consideration has not been given, in any new UK legislation, to some cyber issues such as spamming.164 Between 2001 and 2006 there were only 89 convictions under the CMA. The amendments made to the CMA and the introduction of the PJA should go some way to convict those committing DoS165 and DDoS attacks and the stiffer penalties may help to deter, as viruses can be both costly in terms of finance and disruption.166 The Solicitor-General stated that there were over 36,000 prosecutions under the FA since its introduction167 and it would appear that the Act ...read more.

Conclusion

BBC June 2000 148 2006 149 the law of blasphemy, Race Relations Act 1976 150 s74 and Schedule 16 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 151 1997 152 s11988 153 Lennox and Others v King [2004] EWCA Civ 1329; Keith-Smith v. Williams [2006] All ER (D) 297 QBD 154 s1 Criminal Law Act 1977 as amended by s5 Criminal Attempts Act 1981 155 Scott v Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis [1975] AC 819 held "...defraud is given its everyday meaning." 156 s12 Criminal Justice Act 1987 157 Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998 as amended. 158 [2008] UKHL 59. Provisional date for judicial review 9th and 10th June 2009. 159 The necessary details can be obtained from a thrown away credit card transaction receipt or the cardholders name, delivery address, card number and expiry date. 160 As amended by s36 Police and Justice Act 2006 and Schedule 15 Serious Crime Act 2007 161 ss1 and 3 Computer Misuse Act 1990, as amended 162 GreenNet Civil Society Internet Rights Project Revision 1, April 2003. 163 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 surveillance of targeted computer networks 164 Unsolicited commercial e-mails 165 DPP v Lennon [2006] EWHC 2101 (Admin) held DoS attacks constitute an offence under s3 Computer Misuse Act 1990 166 "I Love You" virus 2000 estimated to have cost $8.75bn Computer Crime and Security Survey 2002 167 House of Commons debates (2009) 26 February Oral Answers to Questions - Solicitor-General 168 19 March 2009 169 The Rt Hon Baroness Scotland QC Attorney General 170 Sandra Quinn Interim, Chief Executive of the National Fraud Strategic Authority 171 s68 Serious Crime Act 2007 172 9 May 2007, 58 government and banking websites were shut down under a simultaneous DDoS attack co-ordinated from Russia. 173 Goldsmith J and Wu T, 'Who Controls the Internet?' (2006) OUP 174 R v Fellows [1996] the investigation carried out in the UK as US enforcement agencies believed conviction more likely under UK legislation. 175 Eversheds solicitors 176 Vnunet.com (2008) 1 October ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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