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Computer Misuse

Volume 164: debated on Monday 8 January 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many prosecutions there were for computer misuse in the years 1985 to 1989; and how many were successful.

The Law Commission, when publishing its recent report on this subject, pointed out that computer misuse was a relatively new phenomenon and that the criminal law as presently framed did not provide adequate protection against all forms of misuse. As a consequence there have been few prosecutions, but the exact figure is not readily available, as Government statistics do not separately identify those cases containing this element.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will publish in the Official Report a breakdown of the verifiable cases of computer misuse in the years 1985 to 1989 in the following three categories (a) unauthorised access, (b) computer fraud and (c) damage.

Although there are no centrally collated figures, my Department has identified around 270 verified cases of computer misuse between 1985 and 1989. Of these, approximately 42 per cent. relate to unauthorised access, 37 per cent. to computer fraud and 20 per cent. to damage. I understand that a large number of cases go unreported, and that this figure probably represents only a proportion of the true total.