First Irish cybercrime legislation approved by Oireachtas

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

The first piece of Irish legislation dedicated specifically to dealing with cybercrime today completed its passage through the Oireachtas.

The Criminal Justice (Offences Relating to Information Systems) Bill creates offences around:

  • 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 Bill’s definition of “information system” is deliberately broad, reflecting the range of modern communications and data storage technology currently available, such as tablets and smartphones.

The most serious offences under the new legislation could result in a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: “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.

Ms Fitzgerald 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.”