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Govt report card logs UK hacking conviction success rate

56% - Could do better

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Sixty-one of the 108 people prosecuted under UK hacking laws between 2003 and 2007 were convicted.

The number of successful prosecutions under the Computer Misuse Act came in a written parliamentary answer by Claire Ward, junior minister at the Ministry of Justice, in response to a question from Cardiff Lib Dem MP Jennifer Willott. The answer - published in Hansard here - gives a break-down by year and seriousness of offence.

Section One, the least serious category, includes simple unauthorised access to a computer while Section three offences cover the creation of computer viruses and (more recently) the instigation of denial of service attacks that impair the operation of computers. Section Two offences cover unauthorised modification (computer hacking) as a part of some other crime.

With such a small sample it is perhaps a bit rash to look for trends. However the less cautious might note that the rate of successful prosecutions was roughly consistent between 2004 and 2007, after starting with a lowly one-in-four hit rate back in 2003. Delving deeper into risky waters it might also be noted that success rates for Section Three prosecutions are higher than those for Section Two cases, as least between 2004 and 2007. Stats for 2008 will only become available later this year.

The figures only cover prosecutions where computer hacking offences were the principal offence under consideration by the courts (ie. the one likely or actually leading to the toughest punishment on conviction). Figures from both magistrate and crown court prosecutions are included in the figures.

The written answer on CMA prosecutions was published as part of Hansard's record for parliamentary proceedings for 16 September but only made available online on Tuesday (22 September). ®

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