UK Judges Now Say That Maybe Email Bombs Actually Are Illegal

from the took-'em-long-enough dept

In the last year or so, we’ve seen plenty of stories about just how woefully out of date the UK’s Computer Misuse Act is. It seemed like every time a computer case hit the courts, we were told that since it wasn’t covered by the Act, it was perfectly legal. One of these cases involved a teenager who email bombed his employer. The original decision found that the Computer Misuse Act didn’t make that illegal — suggesting that sending out email bombs was perfectly legal, at least until the act was changed (which they’re working on). However, a higher court has now overturned that decision, saying that such email bombs are illegal under the act. However, unfortunately, the Reuters report on this story confuses the issue tremendously — claiming that the judges said spamming was against the Computer Misuse Act (in fact, we now expect to see many copycat stories claiming exactly that — even though it’s not what they said at all). The details have little to do with spamming (for which folks in the UK have a different, but equally useless, law). Instead, the judges make it clear that their decision isn’t about “spamming,” but about sending a barrage of emails clearly designed to knock out a computer.

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Comments on “UK Judges Now Say That Maybe Email Bombs Actually Are Illegal”

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Hoping for justice says:

Go after the real computer criminals.

In a week when an apparently deranged, but otherwise harmless “hacker” is up for extradition to a country known for torturing suspected “terrorists” this new story only further highlights the double standards applied by the courts and the widespread woeful misunderstandings of computer crime. I’m all for realistic, reasonable and enforcable laws to prevent computer fraud, abuse and vandalism, but what signal does it send when Sony, estimated to have caused as much as 70 million in damages across the world by installing root kits (the worst possible computer crime- ask any informed person) on the computers of countless individuals, get to arrogantly shrug it off and walk away free?

Before we allow the law to go after another irrelevant upset teenager for petty misdemeanours lets insist Sony, and their henchmen at the UK firm First4internet be hauled up in front of the judges on charges of the most serious computer crimes of which they are guilty. The scale of their crimes are orders of magnitude more serious and sinister than a pathetic “email bomb”. Sony management and programmers should be facing years of hard jail time for their actions. But where is the case against them?

Dan says:

Re: Go after the real computer criminals.

The harmless hacker brakes into Goverment/military computers after 2000 people of the world, not just the United States are killed in 9/11? And you expect him to be let free? I don’t give a flying rats butt if you think he is harmless or not, you would expect ANY NATION to not want to go after anyone that did something like that in the same time frame as a major attack like that?

Good god, the man deserves to be arested just for stupidity. Who the bloody hell in their right mind would try to break into a goverment computer of a nation that was just attacked by a foriegn power?

He’s and idiot. He deserves everything he gets.


James Savik says:

The courts in the US (and elsewhere apparently) are woefully ill-equipped to handle computer crime. Judges, police departments and prosecutors know little or nothing about information technology unless they are in a major metro area.

They also tend to fixate on certian types of computer crime (that they have a prayer of catching) and ignoring the real cyberterrorists: virus and spyware makers.

Andrew Strasser (user link) says:

In agreement....

With everything said. No one seems to be equipped for this. They’ve at least started to crack down on the money side, however they are lagging very slowly in the massive conglomerate side. I guess that just goes to show how it works though doesn’t it. The treachery commited inside govt. is what needs to be fixed not some punk kid who showed the company how big of a punk he was and how much smarter than they were he was. All he had to do was grab a fake id and hit an internet cafe.

Bill Gates says:


Computer crime is evolving (like any law system), what constitutes crime has to be decided through the old slow systems of legilature and the law courts, these systems are ok for social interactions, computers can change too quickly for the current law system to keep up and understand.

The only way for computer crime to be mitigated is for users to be better educated (so users can protect themselves), code to be open (laws are made on open assumptions/ideologies not closed or hidden ones) and people to use their heads and not rally around all teenagers and hackers are evil mentality.

Most of the advances in the e-commerce appears to originate from these ‘evil’ people.

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