Computer users who undermine national security could be jailed | Law

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Government plans that mean computer users deemed to have harmed national security, human well-being, the economy or the environment will face a life sentence have been criticized by experts who warn the new law could be used to target legitimate whistleblowers.

Last week, the Joint Human Rights Committee raised concerns about the proposals and the scope of such legislation.

“Legal certainty requires that criminal offenses be precisely defined so that individuals know how to avoid such sanctions,” says his report. “Vagueness is not admissible in the definition of criminal offenses. “

Professor Peter Sommer, scholar and expert witness in cybersecurity, said legitimate whistleblowers could be targeted, adding that existing legislation under the Computer Misuse Act, which allows a maximum sentence of 10 years, was sufficient.

“There is almost certainly adequate legislation to deal with situations that arise in connection with the misuse of a computer…

Sommer said he suspected the plan was driven by politicians who wanted “the opportunity to stand up and look tough,” but warned there could be serious consequences. “If not defined more precisely, it could target people that you and I and many others can classify as whistleblowers.”

Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock warned the legislation was too broad and called for greater protection for potential whistleblowers.

“As the Internet affects more areas of our lives, IT legislation written in one context may be more widely applied than originally intended. We hope that an increase in penalties under the Computer Misuse Act will be accompanied by additional protections, for example through public interest defense.

The government said legislation was needed to deal with catastrophic cyber attacks “which result in loss of life, serious illness or injury or serious damage to, or significant risk to, national security.”

He says that in addition to targeting cyber terrorists, the new offense in the proposed update to the Computer Misuse Act 1990 would also impose harsher penalties on hackers carrying out espionage. industrialist, seen as a growing threat to UK businesses.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “Serious and organized crime is poisoning lives and causing misery across the UK. It is a threat to our national security and costs hard-working taxpayers at least £ 24 billion a year. “

He added that the dependence on computer systems and the degree of interdependence between them are “ever increasing and a major cyber attack on our critical infrastructure would have serious consequences.”

“With this bill, we will ensure that in the event of such a serious attack, those responsible receive the justice they deserve.”


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