Understanding the amendments to the Computer Misuse Act and CDSA

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, unlawful activities such as hacking and the misuse of personal information have seen a troubling increase. This is reflected in Parliament’s recent amendments to the Computer Misuse Act 1993 (“CMA”) and the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act 1992 (“CDSA”).

In a recent article by Today Online, our Ng Yuan Siang was asked to comment on the significance of these amendments on potential defences that may be raised by accused persons who have been charged for such unlawful activities.

Referring to the changes in the laws, Yuan Siang explained that “it is clear that contrived, coached excuses will no longer shield offenders from potential liability“. The law now operates under the assumption that ordinary citizens should take reasonable steps to find out what their transactions entail, especially if there are red flags.

For anyone who has found themselves tangled up in a hacking-related offence, these revisions to the law notably increase their legal responsibilities and potential liabilities. For one, the newly amended CDSA does not require an accused person to understand the specific nature of the offence they may be facilitating. Instead, it focuses on whether reasonable steps were taken to understand the implications of a suspicious transaction. Ignorance of the potential outcome of their actions will no longer serve as a valid defence.