Computer Crime Research Center

Liability for computer crime in Russia

Date: April 06, 2004
Source: Russian legal pages
By: Victor Naumov

... using of such programs, e.g. human death, harm to people health, real threat of war or other calamity, and malfunction of transportation systems. In this part, the Court can impose the maximal sentence up to seven years of deprivation of liberty.

If the offensive actions bear signs not only of the crime stipulated by Article 273 of the Criminal Code, but also of another crime (murder, demolition of the property), the offender will be liable for total of the committed crimes.

Violation of operating rules of a computer, a system of computers or a computer network (Article 274 of the Criminal Code)

Article 274 of the Criminal Code makes a person having an access to a computer, a system of computers or a computer network liable for infringement of operating rules, demolition, block or modification of legally protected information, provided that such an infringement caused a substantial harm.

The Article protects the owner's interest of computational system's correct maintenance.

Naturally, this penal norm does not contain certain specifications, referring, therefore, to departmental rules and regulations specifying operating procedure, which should be established by an authorized person and reported to users. This Article does not extend to the Internet, but only to local networks of organizations.

Under the legally protected information, this one shall be understood, for which the special acts stipulate peculiar legal assistance.

A causal connection should be proved to exist between the fact of infringement per se and caused substantial harm. Above that, the occurred consequences should be exactly proved to result from violation of the operating rules.

Determination of a substantial harm, in terms of this Article, is a process of evaluation. Accordingly, the court evaluates a harm caused in each individual instance proceeding from merits of a case. However, it is clear that a substantial harm should be less severe as compared to serious consequences.

The violator of the operating rules is a person having an access to a computer system, who ought to obey the specified technical regulations.

The lawbreaker commits the offence deliberately. While infringing the operating rules, he foresees possible or unavoidable wrongful effect to information, and also a substantial harm to be, but desires or consciously admits such harm or does not care of its occurrence. Such the offences are to be punished most severe by deprivation of right of taking certain posts or occupations up to five years.

The second part of Article 274 stipulates liability for reckless infliction. For instance, in compliance with this Article the actions should be qualified of a staff member of the transport control system, who installed to the computer an infected program without preliminary antiviral checking, thereby inflicted a serious transport accident.

Legal authorities proclaimed the facts of unauthorized access to the computer of the Computational Centre of Russian railroads and also to electronic information concerning registered dwelling and non-dwelling premises in local administration of many towns. Today such offences are to be penalized according to Articles 272 or 274 of the Criminal Code, depending on actions of the offender and on the operating rules of a certain network.

It is necessary to note that the elements of offences, stipulated by Articles 272 and 274 of the Criminal Code, are very similar from the technical standpoint. A minor diversity implies authorized or unauthorized access to a computer, to a system of computers or to their network. Article 274 of the Criminal Code refers the reader to operating rule of the computer system, whereas Article 272 denotes irregularity in operation of the computer system as one of the consequences, that from the technical standpoint is a backward from operating rules and regulation. Therefore, it seems to be reasonable to join these similar crimes by law.

Thus, some shortcomings in the wording of articles and ambiguous qualifications in addition to impartial complexity of the computer technique and difficulties in gathering of evidence hinder effective criminal prosecution of unlawful acts committed in the sphere of the computer technology.

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