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Volume 616: debated on Thursday 27 October 2016

1. What recent steps the Crown Prosecution Service has taken to set out its approach to prosecuting cybercrime. (906823)

The Crown Prosecution Service has this very month published guidelines on crimes involving social media, and it will publish a broader cybercrime strategy and guidance for prosecutors this autumn. All CPS prosecutors already have access to training on how to deal with cybercrime.

Last week’s internet of things bot attack, which brought down Twitter and Spotify, among other sites, was the result of tens of millions of household devices, such as baby monitors and televisions, being hijacked by cyber-criminals. This Government have been perilously slow to recognise the real harm that online scams and viruses do to our constituents. What is the Solicitor General doing to ensure that the CPS can respond to internet of things attacks?

The hon. Lady will know that the Government have in place many measures to deal with prevention; she is quite right to talk about the internet of things. When it comes to prosecution, I am confident that the CPS understands the international nature of this crime, particularly the exploitation by organised crime groups of cybercrime across the world and the need for co-operation with other jurisdictions to deal with it. Our cybercrime strategy will address a lot of the concerns she has expressed.

Do we not rely too much on prosecution guidance when it comes to cybercrimes, such as online abuse, when there is no substitute for clear primary legislation? Will my hon. and learned Friend carefully consider the proposals of the Law Commission’s 13th programme of law reform, which looks at offensive online communications, and will he advise our right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor that this should be a top priority?

I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend for the work she has done and continues to do to tighten up the law on offences such as revenge pornography. I believe it is incumbent on the police and on prosecutors to use the existing law more thoroughly, but if there is a case for further reform, the Government will of course look at it very carefully.

Has the Solicitor General seen that over 100 Members of Parliament have now signed a letter to President Obama on the case of Lauri Love, who is going to be extradited to the United States to face trial for hacking into government files? Does he realise that this young man is on the autism spectrum, has severe mental health challenges and may not survive such a journey?

I am very conscious of that case, as I have a strong interest in autism issues. I have to emphasise that it is of course a matter for the courts—there has been a court procedure relating to this issue—so I am loth to make direct comment on the case, but I am certainly following it very carefully.

There is little doubt that there has been a huge increase in cybercrime of all sorts over the past few years. Does the Attorney General think we have the specialist knowledge we need within all our law enforcement agencies to tackle the problem?

My hon. Friend hits the nail on the head. It is vital that the investigatory and prosecutorial authorities understand the global nature of cybercrime. I am confident that the new strategy, to be published very shortly, will address the very concerns that he has raised.