Cybercrime Laws

Cybercrime and its laws are still pretty modern and being constantly developed to keep up with the advancement of technology, its potential and the rise of social media. 

It is a complex area of crime that also relies on other areas of law such as the Fraud Act, Protection from Harassment Act and Communication Act. 

Cybercrime is usually bought under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 (CMA).

There are several offences that come under this:


Section 1: Unauthorised access to computer material.

It is an offence to cause a computer to perform a function with intent to secure access to a programme or data without authorisation, even if the computer itself is your own.

There must be evidence that the accessing was unauthorised, recklessness is insufficient.

Section 1(2) clarifies that the unauthorised access does not have to be aimed at a specific programme. This offence isn’t limited to external hackers, but It would also include employees attempting to access areas of a computer they had been denied access to and exceeds their authority.

This offence carries up to 2 years’ imprisonment.


Section 2: Unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate the commission of further offences.

This offence builds on Section 1, but with the added condition of intending to commit further crimes. For example, accessing an unauthorised computer to steal data in order to commit fraud such as bank fraud. However, it does not have to be proven that the further intended crime was committed. Also, anyone cleared of section 2 can still be convicted of the section 1 offence

This offence can carry up to 5 years imprisonment


Section 3: Unauthorised acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing, the operation of a computer

This offence involves unauthorised access to a computer, and whether intended or recklessly:
– Impair the operation of a computer
– Prevent or hinder access to any programme or data held.
– Impair the operation of any such programme or reliability of its data


The offence can carry up to 10 years’ imprisonment.


Section 3ZA, Unauthorised acts causing, or creating risk of, serious damage.


This offence is where the access to an unauthorised computer causes grater damage such as to infrastructure, where the punishment for section 3 alone is deemed inadequate.
This offence can carry up to 14 years’ imprisonment

If the offence was to pose a greater threat, let’s say to human welfare, the offence can then be up to life imprisonment. 


Section 3A, Making, supplying or obtaining articles for use in offence under Section 1, 3 or 3ZA

This offence is used to cover electronic malware, where an article is used to gain unauthorised access. The Fraud Act 2017 defines this as any programme or data held in an electronic form.
Section 3A(2) involves the supplying of an article which is likely to be used in an offence.
This offence can carry up to 2 years in prison.


If someone in the UK is to hack a website based in the UK, there is possibility of an extradition. This is more likely with the US where there is an extradition agreement, and the states are keen on tackling cybercrime by punishing individuals. Although an extradition cam be avoided.

Cyber related crimes

There are also other crimes related to cybercrime, including and not limited to: Revenge Porn, distribution of indecent images to a nonconsenting person, stalking and harassment using the internet, cyber bullying, distributing of pirated material, Phishing scams, and Cyber Crimes relating to terrorism which would include an attempt to intimidate a government into your demand to advancing a political movement.

If you find yourself facing an allegation of cybercrime, contact Mi solicitors immediately who can offer expert advice and provide you with a strong defence. We can represent you regardless of where you are based in the UK and have expertise in the complex area of law.

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