The world is growing rapidly with various technologies, and accordingly, illegal activities are being increased in adopting these new technologies. Every country has its own laws and regulations. In the UK, people are convicted under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 for illegal activities which are done with the help of technologies, and there are evidences that many people have been sentenced under this law (Turner, M., 2013). Apart from that, there are few regulations, such as RIPA 2000, which gives power to certain authorities in the UK to carry out surveillance or intercept the communications against a person for a specific reason. The question is, are these laws being used effectively and reasonably?
Gaining information illegally or by misusing the power of rights is against the law, and publishing this information is unethical and against media regulations. The News of the World phone hacking scandal is an ongoing case, which created massive concern on those laws, which led to set up an inquiry on media regulation. This paper will be discussing the issues and analyzing how the News of the World came to its demise for illegal activities like hacking the personal phones of many people to seek out inside information and the legal issues involved in it.
2. Overview of Computer Laws in the UK
According to Feng, X., (2013), computer users in the UK must be compliant with the following UK laws:
Communication Act (2003): This act granted more power to OfCom (Office of the Communication) to regulate media and communication service providers. Sections 125 and 126 introduced that improper use of public electronic communication network, possession or supply of devices to break the law are punishable acts. It also introduced that using an unknown Wi-Fi broadband connection without its owner’s permission is illegal (Legislation Government UK, 2003). Evidence: On July 2005, the West London Court punished a man with £500 and 12 months sentenced under Communication Act (2003) for using others’ Wi-Fi without the owner’s permission (BBC, 2005).
Human Rights Act (1998): Article (10) under the Human Rights Act (1998) facilitates that an individual can express his/her own view, published article or leaflet and communication through the internet, though other people may not like it and find it offensive. However, using offensive language insulting to others with the motive of targeting a racial or ethnic group can be punishable. Journalists and any media reporters will be free to express or criticize the government or political party without fear. However, Article (8) can be used to punish anyone who is involved in another’s personal life, which is considered to be disrespectful (Legislation Government UK, 1998).
Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (2003): It introduced that sending automated recorded messages through telephone or mobile voice or SMS for marketing purposes, without prior permission of the user, is illegal (Legislation Government UK, 2003).
Computer Misuse Act (1990): Under this act, it is illegal to hack or introduce a virus to others’ devices. Computer Misuse Act (1990) or CMA (1990) Section 1-3 introduced the offenses as follows:
1. Unauthorized access to Computer material (Data or program);
2. Unauthorized access to Computer with intent to commit or facilitate a serious crime;
3. Unauthorized modification of computer material;
People convicted under this act may be sentenced for 6 months to 5 years and/or up to £5000 payments could be imposed (Legislation Government UK, 1990).
The Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Regulation (2000):Article 3.1 (a) introduced the protection of health and safety of the user or any other person with respect to safety requirements that must be met by all the equipments within the scope of the directive. Article 3.3 (c) introduced certain conditions on the equipments within the scope of the directive as follows: all the equipments must