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Unauthorised Access to Data Held in a Computer

Unauthorised Access to Data Held in a Computer is an offence under Section 308H of the Crimes Act 1900, which carries a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You accessed or modified restricted data without authorisation
  2. You intended to cause that access or modification, and
  3. You knew the access or modification was unauthorised

You must be found not guilty if the prosecution is unable to prove each of these ‘elements’.

‘Restricted data’ is that which is held in a computer and restricted by an access control system.

‘Access’ is defined as:

  1. Displaying the data
  2. Copying or moving the data, or
  3. Executing a program

‘Modify’ is defined as:

  1. Altering or removing the data, or
  2. Adding to the data

Access is ‘unauthorised’ if you are not entitled to effect it.

A prosecution for the offence must be commenced no later than 12 months after it was allegedly committed.

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