Government invites IT industry to put its case

The Government has issued an "open invitation" to the IT profession to present its case for reforming the Computer Misuse Act,...

The Government has issued an "open invitation" to the IT profession to present its case for reforming the Computer Misuse Act, following concerns that it is outdated and contains serious gaps.

Labour whip Lord Bassam issued the challenge during the second reading of the Computer Misuse Amendment private members bill, which aims to criminalise denial of service attacks - one of the main loopholes in the Act.

"We are looking with criminal justice practitioners at the Act's provision on denial of service. We are also very happy to meet industry representatives to share our thinking as it develops. That is a genuine and open-ended invitation," he said.

The call was welcomed by Lord Northesk, the Conservative peer behind the private members bill, who urged IT practitioners to begin lobbying for reform of the Computer Misuse Act.

"The bill has certainly sparked debate, not only in Parliament but more widely. There is a general consensus that something needs to be done. If I can maintain the pressure here, especially with help from other lobby groups, we may be able to persuade the Government to reform the Computer Misuse Act," he said.

A wide range of organisations, including Eurim, the Information Assurance Advisory Council and software suppliers group Intellect, have backed calls to review the UK's computer crime laws as part of Computer Weekly's Lock Down the Law campaign.

Private members bills rarely become law, but Northesk told Computer Weekly that he was "minded" to take the bill through the committee stage, to keep the topic on the political agenda.

Speaking for the Liberal Democrats, Lord Avebury also supported a review of the Computer Misuse Act, but said it would be better for the Government to take advice from the police and industry to produce a more effective solution.

Bassam said that although ministers were not yet convinced of the need for legislation, their minds were not closed to the possibility. "We are happy to meet, and learn from, all those who are actively working in the field to ensure that we have the most robust defence against such matters as denial of service attacks," he said.

Have your say on reforming the computer misuse act
The Government has called for IT practitioners to give their views on the case for reform of the Computer Misuse Act. Send your views to Computer Weekly via cwlaw@rbi.co.uk and we will pass them on to the Home Office. Alternatively, contact Lord Northesk via northeskdjm@parliament.uk.

Sign our Lock Down the Law petition at www.infosec.co.uk

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