CMA to get backdoor update

An update to the UK's cybercrime laws is coming bundled with updates on truancy and the police's stop-and-search powers

Cybercriminals in the UK face the prospect of tougher sentences and modernised laws to ensure a greater number of convictions for computer-related crimes.

A Police and Justice Bill has been introduced today by the Home Office which includes sections relating specifically to the modernisation of UK law to better deal with criminals who have committed acts of cybercrime.

Although the bill recommends reform for general areas of UK law enforcement — ranging from dealing with school truants to greater stop and search powers for police — the fifth section, entitled 'Miscellaneous', includes important revisions to the current Computer Misuse Act (CMA) including a suggested maximum 10-year prison sentence for individuals maliciously impairing the operation of a computer or hindering or preventing the access to programs or data.

The wording of the bill suggests such revisions would encompass acts such as denial-of-service attacks, not currently covered by the CMA, as well as crimes such as the random or targeted distribution of malicious code.

Obtaining physical or digital tools with the intent and prior knowledge to commit cyber crimes is also covered and would carry a maximum sentence of 12 months.

The fact the revisions to the CMA are bundled in with a wider bill is actually a positive sign, according to Derek Wyatt MP, a long-time proponent of reform to the current CMA.

Wyatt told ZDNet UK sister site it is "good news all round", adding that its inclusion in the miscellaneous section of a longer bill has greatly increased the chances of success.

He said: "This is about the only way it could have been added to a major bill," adding that many of the recommendations are "in line with" what he proposed last year.

Wyatt added: "This is more or less what we wanted."