What is the computer misuse act?

The computer misuse act was introduced within the UK in 1990 after the rapid explosion of use of computer and IT equipment within the country, The act was created in accordance with the provision for securing computer material against the unauthorised access or modification of the material. Organisations can take individuals to court and organisations can be taken to court if the act is found to have been broken. This is an act of high importance within the modern day, with the use of IT on the increase as ever. The guidelines for the act were created whist considering the EU guidelines that are in place.

This act outlines three matters that have now become criminal offences if they are broken, these were supported by the government and the act was introduced in 1990. The unauthorised access to computer material has become a punishable offence under the act, a six month imprisonment sentence can be imposed or a fine with a maximum limit of 5000 can also be imposed. Another measure under the act makes the unauthorised access with the intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences a criminal offence. This matter is punishable with imprisonment and has a maximum sentence of 5 years accompanied to it, a fine could be imposed instead of this. Another offence under the act is the unauthorised modification of computer material that is not owned by the individual involved, this also has a maximum sentence of 5 years, or a fine could be imposed.

The act was created as numerous criminals had begun to use computer equipment in order to facilitate other crimes. There are basic offences that also have punishments, although these are relevant to the wider public. More serious matters are often targeted towards groups of people who are intentionally misusing computer equipment for their own benefit.

For example the use of another persons username and password can be considered as a criminal offence as it has been used without the permission of the owner. This is of high importance in the modern day as more and more services are completed online, furthermore the logging into a personal computer may lead to certain sensitive information being discovered.

The UK government is actively seeking people who breach the computer misuse act, especially groups that have a solve purpose of committing crime through the use of computers. The lack of central control on the internet often means that it is difficult to establish who is in charge of governing the misuse of it.