Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, to a question by the Hon Charles Peter Mok in the Legislative Council today (April 24):
In 1993, the authorities amended, through the Computer Crimes Bill 1992, the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200) by adding section 161, which provides for the offence of “access to computer with criminal or dishonest intent” (section 161). During the resumed debate on the Second Reading of the Bill, the then Secretary for Security pointed out that the making of “the new offence of access to a computer with criminal or dishonest intent” aimed at penalising “access to a computer for acts preparatory but falling short of the commission of a fraud”. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of the following since section 161 came into operation in 1993:
(a) the annual numbers of cases in which prosecutions were instituted (prosecution cases) under section 161 (and among them, the number of cases in which the charge was laid as an alternative charge); and among such cases, of the respective numbers of convicted cases and acquitted cases (set out in Table 1);
(b) the annual numbers of prosecution cases under section 161 which involved “access to a computer for acts preparatory of the commission of a fraud”; and among such cases, the respective numbers of convicted cases and acquitted cases (set out in Table 2); and
(c) the annual numbers of prosecution cases under section 161 other than those mentioned in (b), and among such cases, the respective numbers of convicted cases and acquitted cases (set out in Table 3 and type of crime involved)?
It is stipulated under section 161 of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200) (i.e. access to computer with criminal or dishonest intent) that any person who obtains access to a computer:
(a) with intent to commit an offence;
(b) with a dishonest intent to deceive;
(c) with a view to dishonest gain for himself or another; or
(d) with a dishonest intent to cause loss to another,
whether on the same occasion as he obtains such access or on any future occasion, commits an offence.
The above section aims at combating acts of “access to computer with dishonest or criminal intent”, such as technology crimes like online fraud and illegal access to a computer system, as well as other crimes committed through the use of computer. Any persons who commit such an offence are subject to a maximum penalty of five-year-imprisonment upon conviction.
(a) to (c) The Administration has maintained the figures of prosecution cases, convicted cases and acquitted cases pertaining to “access to computer with criminal or dishonest intent”, section 161 of Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200), from 1997 onwards. Details are at the Annex. The Administration, however, did not maintain information on whether the charges in prosecution cases were laid as alternative charges, or whether the cases involved “access to a computer for acts preparatory of the commission of a fraud”.
In 2012, the Hong Kong Police Force set up a Cyber Security Centre in a bid to further enhance Hong Kong’s resilience against various forms of cyber threats, by means of collaboration with relevant government departments and industry stakeholders (including Internet service and critical infrastructure operators). The Police will also continue to adopt multi-pronged strategies to combat technology crimes, such as maintaining professional competence and advanced capability in technology crime investigation, digital forensics and training; working closely with overseas law enforcement agencies, other government departments and key industry stakeholders; as well as raising public awareness of technology crime prevention through public education and community engagement.