James Brokenshire has announced that the UK will support a new EU Directive to combat attacks on computer systems from hackers and other online criminals. In a statement to the House of Commons, the Minister for Crime Prevention said that opting into the European Union Directive on Attacks Against IT Systems underlined the UK's commitment to internationally co-ordinated action against online threats. James told MPs that the risks from the online environment were growing and that the Government had committed £650 million of new investment over the next four years to transform the UK's protective capabilities.
"Cybercrime, often carried out by organised criminals, is now a major and growing threat to all sectors of our economy, and we should be in no doubt: online attacks can have a significant real-world impact, from people's bank accounts being emptied to industrial plants and critical infrastructure being disrupted. The risks from cyberspace are now so great that the national security strategy placed the threat as one of the top tier of risks to our national security."
James added that the dangers from online criminals were international in context and that combating this threat required an international response.
"The directive will ensure that there is a basic set of agreed minimum rules in relation to online crimes and penalties across the EU that member states must build into their legislation. It will also ensure that member states respond quickly to requests from other member states for assistance in cybercrime cases. Those measures will benefit Britain and other countries that have active online economies, because it will mean that cyber-criminals will not be able to hide in European countries that do not have as well developed laws against cybercrime as we do."
"The directive also seeks to address the threat from large-scale attacks on information systems by ensuring that member states have adequate legislation to allow the prosecution and punishment of those organising, committing or supporting large-scale attacks. That is not a hypothetical threat: it is a real, existing problem for the British Government and British business."
You can watch the statement on the Parliament TV website