Science and Tech


The U.K. Is Not Messing Around With Cybercrime Sentencing

The measure would punish severe cybercrimes with life imprisonment.
Posted at 12:35 PM, Jun 05, 2014

The United Kingdom is proposing tough new penalties for hackers — serious cybercrimes could result in life in prison.

Queen Elizabeth II laid out the administration's plan for the Serious Crime Bill in her speech to Parliament this week. According to The Guardian, disruptive cyberattacks could be punishable by 14 years in prison — (Via The Telegraph)

— all the way up to life sentences for "cyberattacks which result in loss of life, serious illness or injury or serious damage to national security, or a significant risk thereof."

The measure would overhaul rules on the UK books since 1990, with punishments topping out at 10 years imprisonment for " ."

The Inquirer points out the UK has yet to suffer an attack that caused severe economic, environmental or social disruption.

But the Minister for Organized Crime told the publication tough rules are justified because of how much the UK relies on networked computers.

"A major cyber attack on our critical infrastructure would have grave consequences. This Bill would ensure that in the event of such a serious attack those responsible would face the justice they deserve."

One indicator of how seriously the UK is taking the threat of cybercrime: the government now ranks them as Tier One threats.

According to the Daily Mail, "They are only ranked as less dangerous than a chemical or nuclear attack, or an invasion of a UK overseas territory."

But critics worry the new measures would overlap with existing laws governing the punishment of computer crimes — or in some cases impede computer security research. (Via Euronews)

Proactive law enforcement is good, one analyst told The Guardian, “but they should be careful to not accidentally criminalise good faith efforts.”