100-year old telecoms law to be repealed

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The British Government is looking to repeal part of the Telecommunications Act that has its roots in legislation dating back from the beginning of the 20th Century.

According to a draft consultation document currently doing the rounds, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) wants to repeal section 44 of the Telecommunications Act 1984.

Under this section the slightest modification of a message by an employee, other than in the course of their duty, is an offence.

It is also an offence to interfere with the contents of a message by changing the wording of a message from or to some organisation "he is politically opposed to in a fit of temper or boredom". (Don't ya just love legal speak?)

A very helpful spokeswoman for telecoms watchdog, Oftel, said the regulator had been consulted on the proposed changes but explained that this particular offence was a throwback to the days of Morse code and the telegraph.

She said that the offence was introduced to deter telegraphers from interfering with messages as they tapped them out and was enshrined in law in the Wireless Telegraphy Act dating back to the turn of the 20th century.

Although it formed part of the Telecommunications Act 1984 it is only now deemed to be out of date. Now isn't that interesting? ®

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