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Police and Justice Act 2006

Section 37: Making, supplying or obtaining articles for use in computer misuse offences

302.This section inserts a new section 3A into the Computer Misuse Act 1990. The new section creates three new offences, each punishable on conviction on indictment with two years’ imprisonment or a fine or both. The offences are:

  • making, adapting, supplying or offering to supply an article intending it to be used to commit, or to assist in the commission of, an offence under section 1 or section 3 (subsection (1) of the new section);

  • supplying or offering to supply an article believing that it is likely to be used in this way (subsection (2));

  • obtaining an article with a view to its being supplied for use in this way (subsection (3)).

If a person were charged with a subsection (2) offence in relation to a quantity of articles, the prosecution would need to prove its case in relation to any particular one or more of those articles; it would not be enough to prove that the person believed that a certain proportion of the articles was likely to be used in connection with an offence under section 1 or 3.

303.The background to these new offences is the existence of a ready and growing market in electronic tools such as "hacker tools" which can be used for hacking into computer systems, and the increase in the use of such tools in connection with organised crime. Also, Article 6(1)(a) of the 2001 Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention requires the criminalisation of the distribution or making available of a computer password or similar data by which a computer system is capable of being accessed with the intent to commit an offence. The new offences are designed to implement this. (By virtue of subsection (4) of the new section 3A, "article" includes "any program or data held in electronic form" and would therefore include computer passwords as well as much else.)

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