Computer misuse update: Doomed to fail?

But back 'on the record' at least...

But back 'on the record' at least...

UK MP Derek Wyatt has a snowball's hope in hell of getting key amendments made to the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) ahead of the dissolution of Parliament but his 10 minute Bill reading, scheduled for 5 April, will at least get the issue back on the record.

Wyatt is exercising his right as an MP to talk to the House for 10 minutes on any given subject – in his case the CMA. But such Bills face an uphill struggle to ever become law, even at the best of times.

But with Tony Blair set to ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament ahead of the General Election, around the same time Wyatt will be speaking, it is unlikely there will be the audience or the inclination to do much with Wyatt's recommendations, which include increasing the length of sentences for those arrested for Section One offences under the CMA such as hacking and denial-of-service attacks.

Richard Allan, Lib Dem MP for Sheffield Hallam and a fellow member of the All Party Internet Group for which Wyatt is chairman, told "Putting forward a Private Member's Bill in a week when Parliament is likely to be dissolved is not an ideal way to actually get legislation onto the statute book but this Bill does serve to keep the issue of Computer Misuse alive."

"MPs with an interest in the internet will use every opportunity they can to keep the pressure up for parliamentary time to be found for updating the Computer Misuse Act," added Allan.

Alan Lawson, an analyst at Butler Group, agreed there is a high likelihood Wyatt's recommendations will get overlooked by the government but he said this won't only be down to other events.

In Lawson's opinion, the right Wyatt has had to exercise to get this issue 'airtime' is indicative of an issue which has found few allies in Westminster.

"The format of this delivery only emphasises my impression that there is either a real lack of understanding or an apathy pervading Westminster regarding the potential effects of cybercrime," said Lawson.

Lawson added that the measures suggested by Wyatt also don't go far enough.

"Marginally increased powers for Section One offences are not strong enough to prevent any significant illegal activity as hardened criminals would continue to ignore this legislation, if enacted," added Lawson.