There are different definitions of computer crimes in Australia and within NSW
They generally cover any abnormal and potentially harmful actions or programs someone performs with a computer. Viruses, cyberstalking, and digital fraud are just a few of them.
Computer crimes are defined and punished in part 6 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). These can be committed by individuals, groups, or corporations. Each person gets a separate penalty.
Penalties for Computer Crimes
Now, technology includes data collection, processing, storage, software, programs, artificial intelligence, intelligent machines, networks, and much more. A computer crime can be really bad, depending on the people involved or the value of the destroyed asset.
Intentionally stealing data
In NSW, Section 308F of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) states a crime can be committed when someone takes charge/controls/possess data to commit a serious crime.
There’s a maximum jail sentence of 3 years for this crime.
Subsection 2 describes possession of the data as follows;
- The accused was in possession or control of;
- Digital information/documents stored in a computer or data centre
- The person who has access to or control over the data used for the crime has authority over that person
It’s possible for someone to commit such an offence even if it’s unlikely that it’ll happen. Under the law, it may count as an offence.
Producing, supplying, or obtaining data with malicious intent
A person who supplies produces, or deals with data to commit a severe computer offence commits an offence under section 308G of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). They’re also committing an offence if, by doing so, they enable a computer offence.
It’s an offence under this section, punishable by up to three years in jail.
Subsection 2 of this section defines all actions that constitute this offence to mean;
- The person produces, supplies, or obtains data that is present in a computer or data storage device.
- Produce or participate in supplying a digital copy of the data.
It’s a crime even if it’s impossible to commit this offence. However, it’s not a crime if they just tried to do it.
Committing an indictable offence by unauthorised access to a document
The act of knowingly committing or causing an unauthorised computer function is an indictable offence. It includes cases where the person knows the action is unauthorised and intends to commit it.
If someone commits the original crime, the court can impose penalties.
It is considered an unauthorised function if the person;
- Had unauthorised access to the data in the computer,
- Dealt with the data in an illegal manner or where they are not in charge
- Interacted with the computer or data in a way that would impair the communication
Data changes without permission
Modifying the data on a computer to alter it is a serious crime. It includes knowingly altering the data either directly or indirectly.
It’s a serious offence under section 308D of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). You could get ten years in jail if you did it intentionally.
In addition to this charge, the court may also consider it an alternative to section 195 of the Act (Destroying or damaging property).
The unauthorised alteration of electronic competition
The act of altering or attempting to alter an electronic communication is an offence if the person is aware that it’s illegal and unpermitted and purposely tries to get rid of it.
It is an offence that carries imprisonment for about ten years.
Data alteration (summary offence)
Modifying data in a restricted data centre or private computer is an offence, especially if you know it’s illegal and intend to distort it.
Under Section 4, the offence must be brought to court within three years of the date of occurrence if it is treated summarily.
Digital device theft (computer disk, credit card, etc.)
Compromise of the reliability or veracity of computer software or information is a serious crime under Section 308I of the Act.
- Knows such action was illegal with that computer device
- It intends to distort the data stored
It incurs the maximum penalty of 2 years and is dealt with summarily by courts.
Definition of Key Terms
Section 308 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) defines key terms regarding what a computer/cybercrime is. These terms are important when making or defending a computer offence charge in court.
Basically, it’s anything with code or details.
- Data held in a computer
There are a lot of ways to store data on a computer, including;
Copying or entering data into the computer.
- Data storage device
Data can be stored on a hard drive, a flash drive, huge diskettes or other tools in a data centre.
- To access a data
Getting data from a computer means interacting with it, finding hidden or unusual information, or moving it elsewhere.
- Modification/alteration of data
Basically, it’s when someone distorts, changes, deletes, or includes any data in the original document. Also, it’s when they destroy the original document.
Impairment is when a person prevents the law from communicating, storing, or using data.
Other Computer/digital/cyber Crimes
Under the Act, many actions or offences count as cybercrimes, even if they aren’t mainstream. Here are some examples;
- Forgery offences
A person is guilty of a crime if they use a fake document or apply it in a way that;
Allows people to interact with genuine documents as if they were originals.
- By gaining access to another’s property,
- Another person lost money or got a financial advantage
- Received public benefits, they weren’t entitled to
Under section 254 of the Act, forgery can get you ten years in jail.
Holding false document
The act of intentionally possessing a false document or other sensitive data is offensive, especially when the data or document is used for;
- It makes some people accept them as authentic
- Taking someone else’s property without their permission
- A person’s financial disadvantage or illegal gain
- Influence a public exercise or gains
It is an offence that incurs as much as ten years imprisonment.
Making false documents with equipment
Someone who holds or possesses material or equipment that will create a false document commits an offence. They intend and know that the material will aid in making a false document.
It is an offence that incurs a penalty as severe as ten years imprisonment.
A person who holds the material or equipment, and knows it can be used to create fake documents, is also guilty of the offence, which is punishable by three years in jail.
Also, holding or possessing such a document in hopes that another will use it to create a false document is an offence that carries up to three years in jail.
False or misleading document
False information is an offence if it’s given knowingly to someone;
- It is false and detrimental to the original matter,
- Omits essential issues in a case relating to the document
And the document is useful for the following;
- Public authority,
- People who exercise or perform legal authority.
- Applies such information compliance to the State.
A conviction for this offence may result in up to two years of imprisonment or a fine of 200 penalty units.