When hackers strike

A question was asked on UKNM today.

I answered and wanted to share the reply.

The question was of a person who had her Tiscali email account hacked. The perpetrator forwarded private emails from her account to others and caused huge distress and embrassement. Is Tiscali obliged to to provide information concerning these acts? 

There are two sides to this legally. One is that your may go to the ISP etc and seek the information as a "civil" matter. The other is to treat it as a criminal matter.

You may do either or both.

As a civil matter this is likely to be a trespass against your property and an infringment of your copyright if emails that you have sent have been copied or amednded or made available to others. You are also likely to have a claim for breach of confidenece.

There is a proceedure you may use to get disclosure of information relevant to such an action from any third party with that information but this generally involves going throught the courts.

You may however wish to write to Tiscali to start with and if they don't agree threaten them with a "Norwich Pharmacol order" (a technical term for the proceedure you may use).

Often third parties hide behind data protection laws in these cases and the civil route can be expensive.

Under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 this is also likely to be a criminal offence:

Section 1 of the act says

Unauthorised access to computer material

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if

(a) he causes a computer to perform any function with intent to secure access to any program or data held in any computer;

(b) the access he intends to secure is unauthorised; and

(c) he knows at the time when he causes the computer to perform the function that that is the case.

(2) The intent a person has to have to commit an offence under this section need not be directed at

(a) any particular program or data;

(b) a program or data of any particular kind; or

(c) a program or data held in any particular computer.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to both.

The police have significant powers to obtain information relatibng to the commission of an offence and Section 11 says that

Search warrants for offences under section

14(1) Where a circuit judge is satisfied by information on oath given by a constable that there are reasonable grounds for believing

(a) that an offence under section 1 above has been or is about to be committed in any premises; and

(b) that evidence that such an offence has been or is about to be committed is in those premises;

he may issue a warrant authorising a constable to enter and search the premises, using such reasonable force as is necessary.

As you can see it is possible to get the information but really you are looking at using the police.

It is something that you should consider reporting to the police in any event.