Criminal Offences (Misuse of Digital Technologies and Services)

Criminal Offences (Misuse of Digital Technologies and Services)

Criminal Offences (Misuse of Digital Technologies and Services) (Consolidation) Bill

A

BILL

Consolidate offences relating to the misuse of digital devices, technologies, systems and services for the purposes of committing or preparing to commit or aiding, abetting, facilitating or concealing the commission of a crime or disposal of the proceeds of a crime; to make provision reflecting technological advancements, including the training of criminal justice personnel; and to establish a duty for the Secretary of State to provide advice and guidance to the digital and telecommunications services industry aimed at reducing the misuse of digital technologies for criminal purposes.

Be it enacted by the Queens most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-

Section 1

Clause 1

(1)    Digital crime definition:

Digital crime is defined as a crime where digital devices are involved to a significant degree.

(Digital devices include but not limited to: Internet, network, computers, smartphones, cameras, video, games consoles, electronic listening device, geolocation technology)

(2)    Digital abuse definition:

Digital abuse is defined as abuse associated with public protection issues where digital devices are used to a significant degree.

(public protection issues include but not limited to: harassment, stalking, hate, ex-partner abuse, identity theft, trolling, assault, murder, rape, sexual and financial grooming)

Clause 2

It shall be the responsibility of the offices of the Attorney and Solicitor General to undertake a review of all relevant legislation which contains powers to prosecute individuals who may have been involved in the commission of digital crime in order to consolidate such powers in a consolidation Bill.

Clause 3

In conducting such a review the Attorney and Solicitor General shall have regard inter alia to the following statutes:

Malicious Communications Act 1988, section 1

Protection from Harassment Act 1997, section 2, 2a, 4,4a

Offences against the Person Act 1861, section16, 20, 39, 47

Data Protection Act 1998, section 10, 13 and 55

Criminal Justice Act 1998, section 160

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, section 30(1), (3),(5),(6), 78,(5)

Computer Misuse Act 1990, as amended by Serious Crime Act 2015 And Police and Justice Act 2006

Contempt of Court Act 1981

Human Rights Act 1998

Public Order Act 1986, section 4, 4a, 5, 16(b), 18

Serious Organised Crime Act 2005, section 145, 46

Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006, section 48

Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2014, section 32, 34,35,36,37

Protection of Children Act 1978

Obscene Publications Act 1959

Crime and Disorder Act 1998, section 28, 29-32

Criminal Justice Act 2003, section 145,146

Communications Act 2003, section 127,128-131

Data retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, section 4

Sexual Offences Amendment Act 1992, section 5

Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015

Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, section 33(5) 29(6)

Criminal Damage Act 1971, section 2

Sexual Offences Act 2003 section 4, 8, 10, 62

Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 section 43

Magistrates Court Act, 1980 section 127

Suicide Act 1961 section 2(1) as amended by Coroners and Justice Act 2009  

Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, section 63

Theft Act 1968, section 21

Criminal Law Act 1977, section 51(2)

Clause 4

In conducting the review the Attorney and Solicitor General shall consult with the Police, Crown Prosecution Service, the Judiciary and relevant community organisations.

Clause 5

It shall be the responsibility of the Attorney General to identify any other statutes which may or have been used to prosecute perpetrators of digital or on-line crime.

Clause 6

The digital crime consolidation bill shall be published within 12 months of the completion of the above consultation process.

Clause 7

The office of the Attorney and Solicitor General shall issue guidance to the Police and Crown Prosecution Service on the interpretation of all powers contained in this Bill.

 

Section 2: Surveillance and Monitoring

Clause 8

(1) It shall be an offence to use a digital device to repeatedly locate, listen to or watch a person without legitimate purpose.

 (2) For the purpose of this section repeatedly shall be deemed as on 2 occasions or more.

 (3) A person convicted of this offence shall be liable to up to 12 months imprisonment or a fine or both.

(4) Any surveillance, monitoring or other activity shall be deemed to have occurred in public if conducted using online services to which a person has subscribed for the purpose of this and subsequent sections.

Clause 9

(1) It shall be an offence to install spyware or a webcam or any other device on another person’s property or digital device without the user’s agreement or without legitimate reason.

 (2) A person who installs a webcam or spyware or any other device without permission shall be liable to prosecution and on conviction to up to 12 months imprisonment or a fine or both.

(3) The secretary of state shall introduce restrictions on the sale of spyware to persons under the age of 16 and requests all persons who are purchasing such equipment to state their intended use of such equipment.

Clause 10

It shall be an offence for a person to take multiple images of an individual unless it is in the public interest to do so without that individual’s permission and where the intent was not legitimate nor lawful.

Clause 11

(1)The Information Commissioners Office shall have the power to dismiss repeated Freedom of Information requests from a person if they are satisfied that the purpose of the requests are to harass, groom, humiliate or otherwise impact on the reputation of the subject.

(2) A request to dismiss Repeat Freedom of Information requests should be made by the subject of the requests in writing to the Information Commissioner.

Clause 12

(1) It shall be an offence for a person to repeatedly order goods or services for another person if the purpose of such actions is to cause distress, anxiety or to disrupt that person’s daily life.

 (2) A person convicted of an offence under (1) above shall be liable to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.

Clause 13

It shall be an offence liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months to erase data remotely whilst a digital device is being examined by the police or any other lawful investigation.

Clause 14

It shall be an offence liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months to monitor a digital device registered to a person aged 17 or less if the purpose of that monitoring is to obtain information about a third person.

Clause 15

It shall be an offence liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months to monitor any other person’s digital device if the intent of the monitor is either to damage or steal data from that person.

Clause 16

It shall be an offence liable to a term of 12 months imprisonment to create a false persona on line without lawful reason if the purpose of such a creation is to intend to attempt to defraud, groom impersonate or seriously damage the reputation of any other person.

 

Section 3: Abusive Content

Clause 17

It shall be an offence liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months to post images on on-line sites without the permission of the subject of the image if the intent of the poster is to abuse, humiliate, create incitement or put the subject at risk of harm from any person.

Clause 18

(1) In investigating a complaint of abusive content which has been made by an individual, the police in determining whether the posting had criminal intent shall have regard to the impact the alleged abuse would have had on the victim had it occurred off-line.

(2) In determining whether to caution or otherwise charge a person accused of on-line abuse or threat the police shall have regard to the seriousness of that abuse or threat

Clause 19

(1) It shall be an offence subject on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment of up to 6 months or a fine or both to post a message on-line which is discriminatory, incites a person to engage in threatening or abusive activity or causes a person distress or anxiety and there is a pattern of behaviour.

(2) In determining whether to caution or charge a person accused of posting on line abuse, the Police shall have regard to the seriousness of the abuse or threat and what action they may have taken that the activities occurred off line.

Clause 20

(1) A person convicted of an offence contained in any section of this Bill shall be liable to be made the subject of a restraining order.

(2) In making such an order the Court shall state its length and attach any restrictions on the activities of the subject of the order deemed necessary to secure compliance with that order.

(3) A failure to comply with the order shall be deemed a breach of the order, should the order be breached on 2 or more occasions there shall be a presumption of custody unless it would be unreasonable to do so.

 

Section 3: Training and Education

Clause 21

(1) It shall be the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Education to ensure the all Educational establishments shall include in the curriculum regular sessions which warn students of the risks to themselves of online services and ways to ensure their safety and protection.

(2) It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State for Education to establish a confidential helpline in England and Wales to offer students practical advice on the use of online services, risks to the person and safety.

Clause 22

 (1) It shall be the responsibility of the Home Department to ensure that each Police Service shall invest in training on the prioritisation, investigation and evidence gathering in respect of digital crime and abuse.

 (2) It shall be the responsibility of the Home Department to ensure that all Police services record complaints and outcomes of complaints of digital crime and abuse.

 (3) It shall be the responsibility of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to publish annual statistics on complaints and outcomes of digital crime and abuse.

 

Section 4: Duties on Providers of Online services

Clause 23

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry shall have a responsibility that all providers of online services adhere to a code of professional standards this should include guidance on what response a victim of abuse will receive from providers, quality service standards for abuse teams and assistance on determining and assessing the nature of and therefore response to that abuse. The code should advise online services providers to enforce appropriate privacy settings of young persons aged 17 or less.

Clause 24

(1) Any company which provides a subscription to any form of online services shall have a responsibility to undertake and publish a safety impact assessment and if necessary a transparency report in respect of service users.

(2) If a provider of online services becomes aware from a member of the public of any threat to harm an individual through its services then the provider shall have a duty to inform the police.

 (3) If a provider of online services becomes aware of any violent or incite full postings on its services it shall have a duty to remove or block such postings with immediate effect.

(4) Providers of online services shall make efforts ensure that the minimum access ages set by the Secretary of State are adhered too.

 

Section 5: Guidance

Clause 25

(1) In issuing guidance the Secretaries of State for the Home Department, Trade and Industry and Education shall have regard to all developments in new technology including emerging criminal activity, risks and the need to provide safety advice and assistance to victims and potential victims. The guidance should also reflect what actions would be taken by the police or other criminal justice officials if the on line activity had occurred off line.

(2) Guidance should ensure that best Quality Standards are followed across the on-line services industry.

(3) Educational advice should warn of the possible dangers of posting personal information on line.

(4) Guidance should be issued to phone providers that they should suspend payments if a subscriber has a phone held for forensic examination for longer than three months.

(5) Prosecutors should be advised when considering summary cases to take into account the time taken by on-line services providers to respond to Police requests for data.

(6) Codes of practice issued by Industry should allow users to remove a compromised phone from any cloud account.

(7) Guidance should ensure that cloud account holders who have given permission for their location data to be collected be given reminders every six months that they have an opportunity to withdraw that permission.

(8) Guidance should ensure that all employers must be aware that they cannot monitor employees’ on-line services accounts covertly unless it is part of a lawful investigation.

(9) Guidance shall provide advice on the seriousness of on-line abuse or threats in terms of decisions to caution, charge or proceed with the allegation.

(10) The guidance shall include  risk assessment and structured professional judgement tools capable of practical application that support the identification and prioritisation of high  risk instances of surveillance, monitoring or abusive content involving threats to safety that require investigation by the Police and other statutory bodies.

Clause 26 Short title, commencement and extent

(1)    This Act may be cited as the Misuse of Digital Technologies and Services Consolidation Act 2016

(2)    This Act comes into force on such a day as the Secretary of State may by statutory instrument appoint, and different days may be appointed for different provisions or for different purposes.

(3)    This Act extends to England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Explanatory Notes: Misuse of Digital Technologies and Services Consolidation

Explanatory Notes: Misuse of Digital Technologies and Services Consolidation