MPs look at revising Computer Misuse Act

A group of MPs are scheduled to hold a public hearing into whether the Computer Misuse Act needs updating

The All-Party Internet Group (APIG) will be holding a public hearing into whether the Computer Misuse Act needs bringing up to date.

The APIG is an organisation that attempts to bridge the gap between new media companies and MPs. The group will be holding a public hearing in the House of Commons on 29 April, when MPs will have a chance to discuss suggested revisions to the Computer Misuse Act (CMA).

The CMA was introduced in 1990 -- before the Internet -- and the APIG is questioning whether the law has "stood the test of time".

Richard Allan MP, joint vice-chairman of APIG, said because computers increasingly underpin our everyday activities, any disruption can have "very serious consequences" so legislation must be in place to prosecute wrongdoers. "There must be effective legislation to prosecute those who maliciously attack computer networks in the same way that we deal firmly with people who cause criminal damage to physical objects.  The law in this area needs updating and we will look at how this can be done most effectively," he said.

Derek Wyatt MP, chairman of APIG, said that while some "disruptive activity" on the Internet, such as hacking and virus writing, was clearly illegal, there were too many other areas where the law was unclear: "Some of it seems to fall into grey areas or is difficult to deal with across jurisdictional borders. We need to know if the law, both in the UK and elsewhere, needs strengthening to ensure that we can deter bad behaviour, and also prosecute and convict where necessary."