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TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: britain.txt

British Computer Crime Laws




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Subject: Computer crime act from Great britain (for archives)
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                     Computer Crime Act from Great Britain


                                  29 June 1990

                              SECTION: Long title

 TEXT:
   An Act to make provision for securing computer material against
unauthorised access or modification; and for connected purposes


              SECTION: 1 Unauthorised access to computer material

 TEXT:
   (1) A person is guilty of an offence if))

   (a) he causes a computer to perform any function with intent to
secure access to any program or data held in any computer;

   (b) the access he intends to secure is unauthorised; and
   (c) he knows at the time when he causes the computer to perform
the function that that is the case.

   (2) The intent a person has to have to commit an offence under
this section need not be directed at))

   (a) any particular program or data;

   (b) a program or data of any particular kind; or

   (c) a program or data held in any particular computer.

   (3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be
liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not
exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the
standard scale or to both.


           SECTION: 2 Unauthorised access with intent to commit or
                  facilitate commission of further offences


 TEXT:
   (1) A person is guilty of an offence under this section if he
commits an offence under section 1 above ("the unauthorised access
offence") with intent))
   (a) to commit an offence to which this section applies; or
   (b) to facilitate the commission of such an offence (whether by
himself or by any other person);

   and the offence he intends to commit or facilitate is referred
to below in this section as the further offence.

   (2) This section applies to offences
   (a)

   (b) for which a person of twenty)one years of age or over (not
previously convicted) may be sentenced to imprisonment for a term
of five years (or, in England and Wales, might be so sentenced but
for the restrictions imposed by section 33 of the Magistrates'
Courts Act 1980).

   (3) It is immaterial for the purposes of this section whether
the further offence is to be committed on the same occasion as the
unauthorised access offence or on any future occasion.

   (4) A person may be guilty of an offence under this section even
though the facts are such that the commission of the further
offence is impossible.
   (5) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be
liable))
   (a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not
exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory
maximum or to both; and
   (b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not
exceeding five years or to a fine or to both.


         SECTION: 3 Unauthorised modification of computer material


 TEXT:
   (1) A person is guilty of an offence if)

   (a) he does any act which causes an unauthorised modification of
the contents of any computer; and

   (b) at the time when he does the act he has the requisite intent
and the requisite knowledge.

   (2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) above the requisite
intent is an intent to cause a modification of the contents of any
computer and by so doing))
   (a) to impair the operation of any computer;

   (b) to prevent or hinder access to any program or data held in
any computer; or

   (c) to impair the operation of any such program or the
reliability of any such data.

   (3) The intent need not be directed at))

   (a) any particular computer;

   (b) any particular program or data or a program or data of any
particular kind; or
   (c) any particular modification or a modifi                                 c
particular kind.
   (4) For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) above the requisite
knowledge is knowledge that any modification he intends to cause is
unauthorised.
   (5) It is immaterial for the purposes of this section whether an
unauthorised modification or any intended effect of it of a kind
mentioned in subsection (2) above is, or is intended to be,
permanent or merely temporary.
   (6) For the purposes of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 a
modification of the contents of a computer shall not regarded as
damaging any computer or computer storage medium unless its effect
on that computer or computer storage medium impairs its physical
condition.

   (7) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be
liable))
   (a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not
exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory
maximum or to both; and
   (b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not
exceeding five years or to a fine or to both.


                          CROSS)HEADING: Jurisdiction

           SECTION: 4 Territorial scope of offences under this Act
                         DATE)IN)FORCE: 29 August 1990

 TEXT:
   (1) Except as provided below in this section, it is immaterial
for the purposes of any offence under section 1 or 3 above))

   (a) whether any act or other event proof of which is required
for conviction of the offence occurred in the home country
concerned; or

   (b) whether the accused was in the home country concerned at the
time of any such act or event.

   (2) Subject to subsection (3) below, in the case of such an
offence at least one significant link with domestic jurisdiction
must exist in the circumstances of the case for the offence to be
committed.

   (3) There is no need for any such link to exist for the
commission of an offence under section 1 above to be established in
proof of an allegation to that effect in proceedings for an offence
under section 2 above.
   (4) Subject to section 8 below, where))

   (a) any such link does in fact exist in the case of an offence
under section 1 above; and
   (b) commission of that offence is alleged in
offence under section 2 above;

   section 2 above shall apply as if anything the accused intended
to do or facilitate in any place outside the home country concerned
which would be an offence to which section 2 applies if it took
place in the home country concerned were the offence in question.

   (5) This section is without prejudice to any jurisdiction
exercisable by a court in Scotland apart from this section.

   (6) References in this Act to the home country concerned are
references))
   (a) in the application of this Act to England and Wales, to
England and Wales;

   (b) in the application of this Act to Scotland, to Scotland; and
   (c) in the application of this Act to Northern Ireland, to
Northern Ireland.


                          CROSS)HEADING: Jurisdiction

           SECTION: 5 Significant links with domestic jurisdiction


 TEXT:
   (1) The following provisions of this section apply for the
interpretation of section 4 above.

   (2) In relation to an offence under section 1, either of the
following is a significant link with domestic jurisdiction))

   (a) that the accused was in the home country concerned at the
time when he did the act which caused the computer to perform the
function; or
   (b) that any computer containing any program or data to which
the accused secured or intended to secure unathorised access by
doing that act was in the home country concerned at that time.

   (3) In relation to an offence under section 3, either of the
following is a significant link with domestic jurisdiction))

   (a) that the accused was in the home country concerned at the
time when he did the act which caused the unauthorised
modification; or

   (b) that the unauthorised modification took place in the home
country concerned.



                          CROSS)HEADING: Jurisd
       SECTION: 6 Territorial scope of inchoate offences related to
                           offences under this Act



 TEXT:
   (1) On a charge of conspiracy to commit an offence under this
Act the following questions are immaterial to the accused's guilt))

   (a) the question where any person became a party to the
conspiracy; and
   (b) the question whether any act, omission or other event
occured in the home country concerned.

   (2) On a charge of attempting to commit an offence under section
3 above the following questions are immaterial to the accused's
guilt))

   (a) the question where the attempt was made; and

   (b) the question whether it had an effect in the home country
concerned.
   (3) On a charge of incitement to commit an offence under this
Act the question where the incitement took place is immaterial to
the accused's guilt.
   (4) This section does not extend to Scotland.


                          CROSS)HEADING: Jurisdiction

       SECTION: 7 Territorial scope of inchoate offences related to
       offences under external law corresponding to offences under
                                   this Act


 TEXT:
   (1))(3) . . .

   (4) Subject to section 8 below, if any act done by a person in
England and Wales would amount to the offence of incitement to
commit an offence under this Act but for the fact that what he had
in view would not be an offence triable in England and Wales))

   (a) what he had in view shall be treated as an offence under
this Act for the purposes of any charge of incitement brought in
respect of that act; and
   (b) any such charge shall accordingly be triable in England and
Wales.
 ANNOTATIONS:
   Sub)ss (1), (2): amend the Criminal Law Act 1977, s 1.

   Sub)s (3): amends the Criminal Attempts Act 1981, s 1.
                          CROSS)HEADING: Jurisd

                      SECTION: 8 Relevance of external law



 TEXT:
   (1) A person is guilty of an offence triable by virtue of
section 4(4) above only if what he intended to do or facilitate
would involve the commission of an offence under the law in force
where the whole or any part of it was intended to take place.

   (2) A person is guilty of an offence triable by virtue of
section 1(1A) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 only if the pursuit of
the agreed course of conduct would at some stage involve))

   (a) an act or omission by one or more of the parties; or
   (b) the happening of some other event;

   constituting an offence under the law in force where the act,
omission or other event was intended to take place.

   (3) A person is guilty of an offence triable by virtue of
section 1(1A) of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981 or by virtue of
section 7(4) above only if what he had in view would involve the
commission of an offence under the law in force where the whole or
any part of it was intended to take place.
   (4) Conduct punishable under the law in force in any place is an
offence under that law for the purposes of this section, however it
is described in that law.

   (5) Subject to subsection (7) below, a condition specified in
any of subsections (1) to (3) above shall be taken to be satisfied
unless not later than rules of court may provide the defence serve
on the prosecution a notice))
   (a) stating that, on the facts as alleged with respect to the
relevant conduct, the condition is not in their opinion satisfied;

   (b) showing their grounds for that opinion; and

   (c) requiring the prosecution to show that it is satisfied.
   (6) In subsection (5) above "the relevant conduct" means))
   (a) where the condition in subsection (1) above is in question,
what the accused intended to do or facilitate;

   (b) where the condition in subsection (2) above is in question,
the agreed course of conduct; and

   (c) where the condition in subsection (3) above is in question,
what the accused had in view.

   (7) The court, if it thinks fit, may permit the defence to
require the prosecution to show that the condition is satisfied
without the prior service of a notice under subsection (5) above.
jurisdiction in Scotland permits the defence to require the
prosecution to show that the condition is satisfied, it shall be
competent for the prosecution for that purpose to examine any
witness or to put in evidence any production not included in the
lists lodged by it.

   (9) In the Crown Court the question whether the condition is
satisfied shall be decided by the judge alone.

   (10) In the High Court of Justiciary and in the sheriff court
the question whether the condition is satisfied shall be decided by
the judge or, as the case may be, the sheriff alone.


                          CROSS)HEADING: Jurisdiction

                   SECTION: 9 British citizenship immaterial


 TEXT:
   (1) In any proceedings brought in England and Wales in respect
of any offence to which this section applies it is immaterial to
guilt whether or not the accused was a British citizen at the time
of any act, omission or other event proof of which is required for
conviction of the offence.

   (2) This section applies to the following offences))

   (a) any offence under this Act;

   (b) conspiracy to commit an offence under this Act;

   (c) any attempt to commit an offence under section 3 above; and
   (d) incitement to commit an offence under this Act.


                    CROSS)HEADING: Miscellaneous and General
             SECTION: 10 Saving for certain law enforcement powers

 TEXT:
   Section 1(1) above has effect without prejudice to the
operation))
   (a) in England and Wales of any enactment relating to powers of
inspection, search or seizure; and

   (b) in Scotland of any enactment or rule of law relating to
powers of examination, search or seizure.





                    CROSS)HEADING: Miscellaneo                                 u
              SECTION: 11 Proceedings for offences under section 1

 TEXT:
   (1) A magistrates' court shall have jurisiction to try an
offence under section 1 above if))

   (a) the accused was within its commission area at the time when
he did the act which caused the computer to perform the function;
or

   (b) any computer containing any program or data to which the
accused secured or intended to secure unauthorised access by doing
that act was in its commission area at that time.

   (2) Subject to subsection (3) below, proceedings for an offence
under section 1 above may be brought within a period of six months
from the date on which evidence sufficient in the opinion of the
prosecutor to warrant the proceedings came to his knowledge.

   (3) No such proceedings shall be brought by virtue of this
section more than three years after the commission of the offence.

   (4) For the purposes of this section, a certificate signed by or
on behalf of the prosecutor and stating the date on which evidence
sufficient in his opinion to warrant the proceedings came to his
knowledge shall be conclusive evidence of that fact.

   (5) A certificate stating that matter and purporting to be so
signed shall be deemed to be so signed unless the contrary is
proved.

   (6) In this section "commission area" has the same meaning as in
the Justices of the Peace Act 1979.

   (7) This section does not extend to Scotland.


                    CROSS)HEADING: Miscellaneous and General
            SECTION: 12 Conviction of an offence under section 1 in
               proceedings for an offence under section 2 or 3

 TEXT:
   (1) If on the trial on indictment of a person charged with))
   (a) an offence under section 2 above; or

   (b) an offence under section 3 above or any attempt to commit
such an offence;

   the jury find him not guilty of the offence charged, they may
find him guilty of an offence under section 1 above if on the facts
shown he could have been found guilty of that offence in
proceedings for that offence brought before the expiry of any time
limit under section 11 above applicable to such proceedings.
relation to a person who is by virtue of this section convicted
before it of an offence under section 1 above as a magistrates'
court would have on convicting him of the offence.

   (3) This section is without prejudice to section 6(3) of the
Criminal Law Act 1967 (conviction of alternative indictable offence
on trial on indictment).
   (4) This section does not extend to Scotland.


                    CROSS)HEADING: Miscellaneous and General
                      SECTION: 13 Proceedings in Scotland



 TEXT:
   (1) A sheriff shall have jurisdiction in respect of an offence
under section 1 or 2 above if))

   (a) the accused was in the sheriffdom at the time when he did
the act which caused the computer to perform the function; or

   (b) any computer containing any program or data to which the
accused secured or intended to secure unauthorised access by doing
that act was in the sheriffdom at that time.

   (2) A sheriff shall have jurisdiction in respect of an offence
under section 3 above if))

   (a) the accused was in the sheriffdom at the time when he did
the act which caused the unauthorised modification; or

   (b) the unauthorised modification took place in the sheriffdom.

   (3) Subject to subsection (4) below, summary proceedings for an
offence under section 1, 2 or 3 above may be commenced within a
period of six months from the date on which evidence sufficient in
the opinion of the procurator fiscal to warrant proceedings came to
his knowledge.

   (4) No such proceedings shall be commenced by virtue of this
section more than three years after the commission of the offence.

   (5) For the purposes of this section, a certificate signed by or
on behalf of the procurator fiscal and stating the date on which
evidence sufficient in his opinion to warrant the proceedings came
to his knowledge shall be conclusive evidence of that fact.

   (6) A certificate stating that matter and purporting to be so
signed shall be deemed to be so signed unless the contrary is
proved.

   (7) Subsection (3) of section 331 of the Criminal ProcedureT
apply for the purposes of this section as it applies for the
purposes of that section.

   (8) In proceedings in which a person is charged with an offence
under section 2 or 3 above and is found not guilty or is acquitted
of that charge, he may be found guilty of an offence under section
1 above if on the facts shown he could have been found guilty of
that offence in proceedings for that offence commenced before the
expiry of any time limit under this section applicable to such
proceedings.

   (9) Subsection (8) above shall apply whether or not an offence
under section 1 above has been libelled in the complaint or
indictment.

   (10) A person found guilty of an offence under section 1 above
by virtue of subsection (8) above shall be liable, in respect of
that offence, only to the penalties set out in section 1.

   (11) This section extends to Scotland only.


                    CROSS)HEADING: Miscellaneous and General
          SECTION: 14 Search warrants for offences under section 1


 TEXT:
   (1) Where a circuit judge is satisfied by information on oath
given by a constable that there are reasonable grounds for
believing))

   (a) that an offence under section 1 above has been or is about
to be committed in any premises; and

   (b) that evidence that such an offence has been or is about to
be committed is in those premises;

   he may issue a warrant authorising a constable to enter and
search the premises, using such reasonable force as is necessary.

   (2) The power conferred by subsection (1) above does not extend
to authorising a search for material of the kinds mentioned in
section 9(2) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
(privileged, excluded and special procedure material).

   (3) A warrant under this section))

   (a) may authorise persons to accompany any constable executing
the warrant; and

   (b) remains in force for twenty)eight days from the date of its
issue.
   (4) In exercising a warrant issued under this section a
       
evidence that an offence under section 1 above has been or is about
to be committed.

   (5) In this section "premises" includes land, buildings, movable
structures, vehicles, vessels, aircraft and hovercraft.

   (6) This section does not extend to Scotland.


                    CROSS)HEADING: Miscellaneous and General
       SECTION: 15 Extradition where Schedule 1 to the Extradition
                               Act 1989 applies



 TEXT:
   The offences to which an Order in Council under section 2 of the
Extradition Act 1870 can apply shall include))

   (a) offences under section 2 or 3 above;

   (b) any conspiracy to commit such an offence; and

   (c) any attempt to commit an offence under section 3 above.


                    CROSS)HEADING: Miscellaneous and General
                  SECTION: 16 Application to Northern Ireland


 TEXT:
   (1) The following provisions of this section have effect for
applying this Act in relation to Northern Ireland with the
modifications there mentioned.
   (2) In section 2(2)(b)))

   (a) the reference to England and Wales shall be read as a
reference to Northern Ireland; and

   (b) the reference to section 33 of the Magistrates' Courts Act
1980 shall be read as a reference to Article 46(4) of the
Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981.

   (3) The reference in section 3(6) to the Criminal Damage Act
1971 shall be read as a reference to the Criminal Damage (Northern
Ireland) Order 1977.
   (4) Subsections (5) to (7) below apply in substitution for
subsections (1) to (3) of section 7; and any reference in
subsection (4) of that section to England and Wales shall be read
as a reference to Northern Ireland.
   (5) The following paragraphs shall be inserted after paragraph
(1) of Article 9 of the Criminal Attempts and Conspiracy (Northern
Ireland) Order 1983))   
(relevance of external law), if this paragraph applies to an
agreement, this Part has effect in relation to it as it has effect
in relation to an agreement falling within paragraph (1).

   (1B) Paragraph (1A) applies to an agreement if))

   (a) a party to it, or a party's agent, did anything in Northern
Ireland in relation to it before its formation;

   (b) a party to it became a party in Northern Ireland (by joining
it either in person or through an agent); or

   (c) a party to it, or a party's agent, did or omitted anything
in Northern Ireland in pursuance of it;

   and the agreement would fall within paragraph (1) as an
agreement relating to the commission of a computer misuse offence
but for the fact that the offence would not be an offence triable
in Northern Ireland if committed in accordance with the parties'
intentions.".

   (6) The following paragraph shall be inserted after paragraph
(4) of that Article)

   "(5) In the application of this Part to an agreement to which
paragraph (1A) applies any reference to an offence shall be read as
a reference to what would be the computer misuse offence in
question but for the fact that it is not an offence triable in
Northern Ireland.

   (6) In this Article "computer misuse offence" means an offence
under the  Computer Misuse Act  1990.".

   (7) The following paragraphs shall be inserted after Article
3(1) of that Order))

   "(1A) Subject to section 8 of the  Computer Misuse Act  1990
(relevance of external law), if this paragraph applies to an act,
what the person doing it had in view shall be treated as an offence
to which this Article applies.
   (1B) Paragraph (1A) above applies to an act if))

   (a) it is done in Northern Ireland; and

   (b) it would fall within paragraph (1) as more than merely
preparatory to the commission of an offence under section 3 of the
Computer Misuse Act  1990 but for the fact that the offence, if
completed, would not be an offence triable in Northern Ireland.".

   (8) In section 8))

   (a) the reference in subsection (2) to section 1(1A) of the
Criminal Law Act 1977 shall be read as a reference to Article 9(1A)
   (b) the reference in subsection (3) to section 1(1A) of the
Criminal Attempts Act 1981 shall be read as a reference to Article
3(1A) of that Order.
   (9) The references in sections 9(1) and 10 to England and Wales
shall be read as references to Northern Ireland.

   (10) In section 11, for subsection (1) there shall be
substituted))
   "(1) A magistrates' court for a county division in Northern
Ireland may hear and determine a complaint charging an offence
under section 1 above or conduct a preliminary investigation or
preliminary inquiry into an offence under that section if))

   (a) the accused was in that division at the time when he did the
act which caused the computer to perform the function; or

   (b) any computer containing any program or data to which the
accused secured or intended to secure unauthorised access by doing
that act was in that division at that time.";

   and subsection (6) shall be omitted.

   (11) The reference in section 12(3) to section 6(3) of the
Criminal Law Act 1967 shall be read as a reference to section 6(2)
of the Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1967.

   (12) In section 14))

   (a) the reference in subsection (1) to a circuit judge shall be
read as a reference to a county court judge; and

   (b) the reference in subsection (2) to section 9(2) of the
Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 shall be read as a reference
to Article 11(2) of the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern
Ireland) Order 1989.
 ANNOTATIONS:
   Sub)ss (5))(7): amend SI 1983 No 1120, arts 3, 9.


                    CROSS)HEADING: Miscellaneous and General
                           SECTION: 17 Interpretation


   (1) The following provisions of this section apply for the
interpretation of this Act.

   (2) A person secures access to any program or data held in a
computer if by causing a computer to perform any function he))

   (a) alters or erases the program or data;

   (b) copies or moves it to any storage medium other than that in
which it is held or to a different location in the storage medium
in which it is held;
   (c) uses it; or

   (d) has it output from the computer in which it is held (whether
by having it displayed or in any other manner);

   and references to access to a program or data (and to an intent
to secure such access) shall be read accordingly.

   (3) For the purposes of subsection (2)(c) above a person uses a
program if the function he causes the computer to perform))

   (a) causes the program to be executed; or

   (b) is itself a function of the program.

   (4) For the purposes of subsection (2)(d) above))

   (a) a program is output if the instructions of which it consists
are output; and

   (b) the form in which any such instructions or any other data is
output (and in particular whether or not it represents a form in
which, in the case of instructions, they are capable of being
executed or, in the case of data, it is capable of being processed
by a computer) is immaterial.

   (5) Access of any kind by any person to any program or data held
in a computer is unauthorised if))

   (a) he is not himself entitled to control access of the kind in
question to the program or data; and

   (b) he does not have consent to access by him of the kind in
question to the program or data from any person who is so entitled.

   (6) References to any program or data held in a computer include
references to any program or data held in any removable storage
medium which is for the time being in the computer; and a computer
is to be regarded as containing any program or data held in any
such medium.

   (7) A modification of the contents of any computer takes place
if, by the operation of any function of the computer concerned or
any other computer))
   (a) any program or data held in the computer concerned is
altered or erased; or

   (b) any program or data is added to its contents;

   and any act which contributes towards causing such a
modification shall be regarded as causing it.

   (8) Such a modification is unauthorised if
determine whether the modification should be made; and

   (b) he does not have consent to the modification from any person
who is so entitled.

   (9) References to the home country concerned shall be read in
accordance with section 4(6) above.

   (10) References to a program include references to part of a
program.

                    CROSS)HEADING: Miscellaneous and General
                     SECTION: 18 Citation, commencement etc


   (1) This Act may be cited as the  Computer Misuse Act  1990.
   (2) This Act shall come into force at the end of the period of
two months beginning with the day on which it is passed.

   (3) An offence is not committed under this Act unless every act
or other event proof of which is required for conviction of the
offence takes place after this Act comes into force.



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