Topics / Computer Ethics / Computer Misuse Act 1990

Computer Misuse Act 1990

Computer Misuse Act 1990 image of a hackerThe Computer Misuse Act 1990 was created to close a loophole in UK law regarding the intentional malicious use of computers.

It is designed to protect computer users against deliberate attacks and theft of information.

The need for new legislation was established after Robert Schifreen and Stephen Gold used their home computers to access (hack) Prince Philip’s personal email account in 1985.

Although charged with illegally accessing a computer system, they were later acquitted because a law didn’t exist to cover such an offence at the time.

The Computer Misuse Act 1990 created three new offences:

Unauthorised access to computer material
  • hacking / unauthorised access to a computer system, e.g. for the thrill of the challenge
  • looking at someone else’s computer files without permission
Unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences
  • hacking into a computer system with the intent to commit further crimes, e.g. to steal money, or change / steal information
Unauthorised modification of computer material
  • hacking into a computer system and successfully changing or damaging information / files
  • creating malware, such as a virus, to change, damage or destroy data

The act makes it an offence to even attempt to access a computer system without authorisation.

This means someone can be prosecuted for just trying to hack into a system.

The penalties of breaking the The Computer Misuse Act range from fines to imprisonment.


Topics / Computer Ethics / Computer Misuse Act 1990

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