· First piece of legislation in this jurisdiction specifically and solely dedicated to dealing with cybercrime
· Crime evolves as technology advances and legislative frameworks must develop to counter new threats
· Cybercrime is an international, worldwide problem which recognises no borders and requires harmonised laws
18 May 2017
The first piece of Irish legislation dedicated specifically to dealing with cybercrime today completed its passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas, where it received general, cross-party support. The Criminal Justice (Offences Relating to Information Systems) Bill aims to safeguard information systems and the data that they contain. The legislation creates new offences relating to:
· unauthorised accessing of information systems
· unauthorised interference with information systems or data on such systems
· unauthorised interception of transmission of data to or from information systems, and
· the use of tools, such as computer programmes, passwords or devices, to facilitate the commission of these offences relating to information systems.
The term “information system”, as defined in the Bill, is deliberately broad, encompassing all devices involved in the processing and storage of data, not only those considered to be “computer systems” in the traditional sense. This reflects the range of modern communications and data storage technology currently available, such as tablets and smart phones.
The Bill establishes strong and dissuasive penalties for commission of the offences it contains. The most serious offences could result in a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years.
The legislation gives effect to relevant provisions of an EU Directive on attacks on information systems. It also gives effect to many of the key provisions of a Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime as certain offences are shared by both international instruments.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, who brought forward the legislation, commented: “This Bill represents landmark legislation in this jurisdiction as it is the first Irish statute specifically and solely dedicated to cybercrime. There is an increased reliance on information and communications technology in the modern world and it is clearly important that we seek to protect vital infrastructures and to maintain users’ confidence in the safety and reliability of such systems. This is clearly in the best interests of businesses, the government sector and individual citizens alike.
Cybercrime is an international, worldwide problem. It transcends national boundaries. International cooperation and harmonisation of national laws have a significant role to play in countering the transnational dimension of cybercrime. “This legislation transposes an EU Directive which harmonises Member States’ law in this area and ensures that Ireland can stand alongside our European partners in combating cybercrime involving attacks on information systems and their important data.”
The passing of the Bill follows in the wake of last weekend’s unprecedented global cyber attack which involved some 200,000 systems in over 150 countries. The Tánaiste added: “This legislation is both welcome and timely. It is particularly important given that Ireland has become a global cyber hub in view of the number of high tech IT and internet-based companies that have major operations here.”
The Bill provides significant new powers to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of unlawful activities relating to information systems and their data. The Tánaiste concluded by saying, “I am sure that this legislation will make a significant difference in combating cybercrime and prove of considerable benefit to the Garda Síochána in their work in this area. It is undoubtedly an important addition to the Irish Statute Book.”