Feeds

UK.gov delay means hacking laws are so last century

Confusion reigns everywhere but Scotland

Security for virtualized datacentres

The government has suspended legislation to update the outdated Computer Misuse Act in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, leaving Scotland the only part of the UK with laws to tackle 21st century hackers.

Amendments to the CMA - which was passed in 1990 before the widespread use of the internet - were due to come into force this month, but have been put back to deal with issues including overlaps with other legislation. Measures to clearly outlaw denial of service attacks including other amendments to the CMA were approved by Parliament two years ago when it passed the Police and Justice Act 2006.

These amendments were themselves to be amended by the Serious Crime Act 2007. The Home Office decided to apply all these changes at once to avoid confusion.

But, as security researcher Richard Clayton of Cambridge University notes, the Scottish Parliament took a different tack and used a statutory instrument (here) to bring the first set of these changes into force in Scotland last October (Scotland has devolved authority over areas including computer crime law).

This means that in Scotland (but not south of the border) individuals can be prosecuted for denial-of-service attacks or distributing hacking tools*, but not if the alleged offences happened in England and Wales - at least, not yet.

The anomaly was due to be resolved this month but has now been delayed for an unspecified period. "We are still considering when to bring in the legislation," a Home Office spokeswoman told Computing.

Security researcher Clive Feather has produced a marked-up copy of the Computer Misuse Act in colours to show how UK hacking law currently stands and how it might soon change here. ®

*An outright ban on so-called hacking tools, contained in initial drafts of the legislation, that might have criminalised security pros was modified after lobbying, so that simply using dual use tools such as nmap or wireshark without intent to commit crime would not be an offence. Obtaining, adapting, supplying or offering to supply tools such as wireshark would likewise be above board. But distributing such dual use tools remains an offence, to the chagrin of security experts.

Dual-use tools can be used to either to test the security of a network or by hackers to look for weaknesses.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't
Silicon Valley's veteran seadog in piratical Putin impression
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.