What Does the Law Say?

  • What Does the Law Say?

    The Internet

    When it comes to the Internet and the law, just remember the Internet is not another world, exempt from the laws that govern our everyday lives.

  • cyberbullying

    The actual crime is not called cyberbullying but would be covered by the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and the Malicious Communications Act 1988. It may also fall into the category of a hate crime.

    For more detail see Bullying – What Does the Law Say?

  • copyright

    Copyright Infringement:

    The 1911 Act provides that an individual's work is automatically under copyright, by operation of law, as soon as it leaves their mind and is embodied in some physical form; be it a novel, a painting, a musical work recorded or written in manuscript, or an architectural schematic. This remains the legal position under the Schedules of 1956 Act and of the 1988 Act.

    If you're caught downloading copyrighted music or videos from the Internet, you may face action from the person who owns the copyright of whatever you've downloaded, or from your Internet service provider.

    This may take the form of a substantial fine or prison sentence.

  • fraud

    Phishing is a term used to describe the act of trying to get private information from a person.

    Phishing is accomplished through the use of tricks or schemes to gain your trust so that you will give out your personal information.

    The Fraud Act 2006 came into force on 15 January 2007 and applies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This added to and repealed certain sections of the previous laws for theft, Theft Act 1968 and Theft Act 1978.

    Maximum Penalties for convictions for Fraud are between 1 and 10 years.

  • grooming

    Grooming is when an adult deliberately befriends a child and gains their trust with the intention of sexually harming them.

    The offence under s.15 Sexual Offences Act 2003 is, in effect, one of meeting a child with the intent to have sexual contact with him or her.

    Section 15(1) states that:

    the offender must either have met or communicated with the child on two previous occasions;

    the offender must then either meet the child or travel with the intention of meeting the child; and

    at that time, the offender has the intention of committing a relevant sexual offence.

    In a case where no substantive sexual offence has in fact been committed, the main factor will be the offender's intention - the more serious the offence intended, the higher the offender's culpability.

    Penalties for this kind of offence are between 1 and 7 years.

  • distributing indecent
    images of a child

    Any images that depict a person under 18 years of age in an indecent way is against the law.

    The legislation for England and Wales which deals directly with offences concerning indecent images of children are:

    Section 160 of the Criminal Justice Act also covers the offence of possession of an indecent image of a child. There is no requirement that the defendant had to have any motive in relation to making or distributing the image – all which is required is that the defendant had the image in their possession.

    Offences carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

  • exposure

    A person commits an offence if he or she intentionally expose his or her genitals and intends that someone will see them and be caused alarm or distress. The advent of web cams make children and young people vulnerable to this kind of offence.

    Penalties for this offence range from a fine to a maximum of 2 years imprisonment

  • hacking, spyware and viruses

    Hacking is the unauthorised use of a computer and network resources. It is a criminal offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

    The Computer Misuse Act 1990

    The Computer Misuse Act was first introduced in August 1990 following a Law Commission report surrounding computer misuse and pressure being forced on the government from certain large corporations.

    The Computer Misuse Act introduced the following three new offences into UK criminal law;

    • unauthorised access to computer material
    • unauthorised access with intent to commit a further offence
    • unauthorised modification.

    Hacking is when an individual causes a computer to perform a function when they intend to access a program or data held in the computer. This is covered by the offence of unauthorised access to computer material – Section 1 Computer Misuse Act.

  • Unauthorised access with intent to commit a further offence

    What is meant by further offences under Section 2?

    Further offences for the meaning of Section 2 are offences which have a sentence fixed by law or where an individual found guilty of that offence would be liable for a term of imprisonment of five years or more.

    Examples of a further offence may be the following:

    • Fraud under the Fraud Act

    • Forgery or counterfeiting under the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981

    • Theft under the Theft Act 1968

    • Criminal damage under the Criminal Damage Act 1971

  • What is meant by modification?

    A modification is a change which impairs the operation of a computer or prevents or hinders access to a program or data or the operation of the program or data. This may also include the removal of a program or data held in the computer or adding a program or data to the computer. This refers specifically to individuals adding a virus to a specific computer or computer system.

    As the offences under the Computer Misuse Act are criminal offences anyone found guilty will be liable for a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and a £2,000 fine. Furthermore under Section 2 of the Computer Misuse Act an individual will likely be guilty of the intended further offence. Further offences could result in a guilty person receiving up to 10 years in prison.

    For more information check out the link below:

  • harassment

    Internet harassment laws make it a criminal act to use electronic devices, including phones and computers to, threaten, torment, stalk, intimidate or otherwise distress a person. (Protection from Harassment Act 1997, the Malicious Communications Act 1988  and Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001).

    The offences may carry a penalty for up to 5 years imprisonment.

  • hate crime

    Hate crime is when someone does something against the law to another person because of hate or because they are afraid of difference. For example, a person may carry out a crime because of someone’s race, religion or belief, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability. It can be perceived as a hate crime by the victim or by someone else.

    In England and Wales there were 43,748 hate crimes recorded by the police in 2011/12.

    Of the 43,748 hate crimes recorded by the police:

    • 35,816 (82%) were race hate crimes;
    • 1,621 (4%) were religion hate crimes;
    • 4,252 (10%) were sexual orientation hate crimes;
    • 1,744 (4%) were disability hate crimes; and
    • 315 (1%) were transgender hate crimes.

    If an offender is convicted of an offence for which their main motivation was based on prejudice or hatred of another race, the sentence can be far more severe than for the same offence without the racial motivation. Internet hate crimes will most likely take the form of malicious communications.

  • identity theft

    The UK's Fraud Prevention Service show that there were 89,000 victims of identity theft in the UK 2010. This compared with 2009 where there were 85,000 victims. Men in their 30s and 40s are the most common UK victims and identity fraud now accounts for nearly half of all frauds recorded.

    Protection under the Data Protection Act 1998

    Personal details are protected under the Data Protection Act 1998. The Act covers personal data which an organisation may hold, The principal offences are:

    • Section 17 - processing without a registration
    • Section 55 - unlawful obtaining etc. of personal data.

    These offences are currently punishable by a fine of up to £5000 in a Magistrates’ court or an unlimited fine in the Crown Court.

    Legislation to introduce the possibility of a custodial sentence for a Section 55 offence is being presented before Parliament.

  • malicious communications

    The Malicious Communications Act 1988 which makes it an offence to send a letter or other article which conveys an indecent or grossly offensive message or a threat, or which contains information known to be false, where the purpose of sending it is to cause distress or anxiety.

    This Act has been expanded by the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 to cover the sending, delivery or transmission of electronic communications or articles of any description. This new definition will cover hate telephone calls, emails or text messages.

    Improper use of public electronic communications network - Communications Act 2003, section 127 - states the offence is one of sending, delivering or transmitting, so there is no requirement for the article to reach the intended recipient.

    A person guilty of an offence under section 127 Communications Act 2003 shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine or to both.