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The Computer Misuse Act has resulted in an average of just one criminal conviction per month for the past 23 years, according to UK Home Office ministers.
The Daily Mirror reports that although 100,000 cybercrimes are being committed each year, only 183 defendants were taken to court over cybercrimes between 1990 and 2006, and just 134 of those were found guilty under the Computer Misuse Act.
Things are speeding up in recent years. Between 2007 and 2013, there were 156 prosecutions, of which 128 led to convictions, but this is still not even approaching the numbers said to be involved in cybercrime in Britain each year. The Mirror reports that The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau estimates £670 million (just over $1 billion) was lost to “the 10 most common online frauds” between September 2013 and August 2014.
The number could be much higher though, as cybercrime is still “vastly underreported” in the country.
Harry Fletcher, Director of Digital Trust – a support website for those affected by cybercrime – told The Mirror that the law needs to be updated to reflect modern criminal trends. “The police still concentrate their resources on traditional offenses offline, when most people are more likely to be mugged online than in the street.”
“The law needs to change. It should, for example, be an offense to use any technological device to locate, listen to or watch a person without legitimate purpose.”
“In addition, restrictions should be placed on the sale of spyware without lawful reasons. It should also be against the law to install a webcam or any other form or surveillance device without the target’s knowledge,” he added.
His critique echoes that of Tom Winsor in the UK’s annual State of Policing report, covered by We Live Security here.
Author Alan Martin, ESET