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Select Committee on Justice and Equality debate -
Wednesday, 22 Feb 2017

Criminal Justice (Offences Relating to Information Systems) Bill 2016: Committee Stage

Perhaps the Minister of State might prefer to address the committee prior to or at the conclusion of the debate. There is a single amendment in the name of the Minister to section 15.

The main purpose of the Bill is to give effect to the provisions of Directive 2013/40/EU of the European Parliament and the Council of 12 August 2013 on attacks against information systems which replaces Council Framework Decision 2005/222/JHA. For this and related purposes, the Bill also amends the Criminal Damage Act 1991, the Bail Act 1997 and the Criminal Justice Act 2011.

The Bill creates new offences relating to the unauthorised accessing of information systems, unauthorised interference with information systems or data on such systems, the unauthorised interception or 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. Obviously, as this area is changing rapidly, it is very important that we keep up to date. The Bill is in response to this.

Sections 1 to 14, inclusive, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 10, line 19, to delete “31.” and substitute “30A.”.

This is a technical drafting amendment to section 15 of the Bill which amends Schedule 1 to the Criminal Justice Act 2011. It relates to the numbering of the new paragraph 32 which should be corrected to read 30A as a paragraph 31 had already been inserted into the 2011 Act by the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014. The Criminal Justice Act 2011 provides for certain powers and procedures in the prosecution and investigation of white-collar crime. The relevant offences for the 2011 Act are listed in Schedule 1 to the Act and include the offences relating to data currently contained in the Criminal Damage Act 1991 which will be replaced by the new offences in this Bill. Section 15, therefore, includes the new offences in this Bill in the list of offences which are relevant for the purposes of the 2011 Act.

I should mention at this stage that it may be necessary on Report Stage to make a technical amendment to section 9 of the Bill which deals with liability for offences by corporate bodies. It is proposed to return to this point, if necessary, on Report Stage.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 15, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 16 and 17 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Title be the Title to the Bill."

I thank Deputies for their support for the Bill which is short but nevertheless important legislation. It will facilitate transposition of an EU directive on attacks against information systems and also implement key provisions of the Council of Europe convention on cybercrime. There is a clear need for international co-operation in the area of cybercrime and the harmonisation of national laws to counter this threat. This is because cybercrime is an international phenomenon that transcends geographical boundaries. It is a worldwide problem that knows or respects no borders. By strengthening laws across and beyond Europe, we present a unified front against cybercrime and ensure there are no legislative gaps that can be exploited by those who seek to undermine information systems and their data. This legislation will allow us to stand alongside our European partners in combating criminality in this area and protecting vital infrastructures for the benefits of governments, businesses and individual citizens alike. I hope Report and Final Stages of the Bill can be taken as soon as possible.

I thank the Minister and his officials for attending. I also thank members for their co-operation.

Question put and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendment.