Legal Concerns

There are other laws you may have to pay attention to as an Internet user. If you post any personal data about individuals on a web site (or even store it on your computer) you may have to take account of the provisions of the Data Protection Act. This act applies across the UK and gives legal rights to individuals in respect of their personal data held by others. The Act seeks to strike a balance between the rights of individuals and the sometimes competing interests of those with legitimate reasons for using personal information.

Further information on the following topics can be downloaded from the Information Commissioner’s website:

  • The eight principles of good practice
  • The six conditions for fair data processing
  • Sensitive data
  • Rights under the Act
  • Criminal offences created by the Act
  • Unsolicited electronic communications
  • The role of the Information Commissioner’s Office

The Computer Misuse Act (1990) was designed to clarify UK law with regards to the intentional malicious use of computers. It is designed to protect computer users against wilful attacks and theft of information. Offences under the act include hacking, unauthorised access to computer systems and purposefully spreading malicious and damaging software (malware), such as viruses.

Unauthorised access to modify computers include altering software and data, changing passwords and settings to prevent others accessing the system, interfering with the normal operation of the system to its detriment. The act makes it an offence to access or even attempt to access a computer system without the appropriate authorisation. Therefore, even if a hacker tries to get into a system but is unsuccessful they can be prosecuted using this law.

Although intention to do wilful damage can not be easily proved, the act makes it an offence for a hacker to access and use a system using another person’s user name, including e-mail, chat and other services. The penalties of breaking the CMA range from fines to imprisonment.

You can find further information about Legal Concerns on the BBC Bitesize site.

Congratulations! You have now reached the end of the Computer Security and Privacy course.  We hope you have found it interesting and that the things you have learned will prove to be useful. Remember, you can return to any topic using the menu near the top of the page.