HC Deb 19 December 1989 vol 164 cc139-40W
Mr. Colvin

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he accepts the recommendations of the Law Commission's report on computer misuse; and what response he intends to make to the report;

(2) what individuals and organisations he has consulted on the detailed proposals contained in the Law Commission's report on computer misuse; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what is his estimate of the annual loss of trade and industry in the United Kingdom caused by computer misuse.

Mr. Forth

[holding answer 15 December 1989]: In welcoming the Law Commission report, I stated that I was inclined to accept its recommendations subject to the views of interested parties. Representations that I have had since that date have convinced me that it provides a sound basis for legislation and that such legislation should be introduced as soon as a suitable opportunity arises.

My Department has written directly to over 280 interested parties to ask for their views on the Commission's proposals. This represents a wide cross-section from industry and commerce, private individuals, consumer organisations, academia, the legal profession and other Government Departments. We have also contacted officials and law enforcement agencies in countries where legislation has already been introduced. The overall response indicates widespread support for the introduction of legislation along the lines suggested by the Law Commission.

There are no centrally collected statistics on the damage caused by computer misuse on which a reasonably accurate estimate could be based. Private sector sources have estimated figures of between £400 million and £1 billion but I cannot validate them. However, the reported cases have convinced me that misuse is occurring, and that the problem is of sufficient magnitude to cause concern.

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