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Is it illegal to post tutorials and articles on hacking related things? In particular in the UK.

For example would it be illegal under this law? http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1990/18/section/3A

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Wow. If he we had a similar rule about child pornography, it would be illegal to operate a package delivery service. After all, you have to believe that "it is likely to be used to commit, or to assist in the commission of, an offence", and that's all this statute requires. –  David Schwartz Apr 4 '12 at 20:15
@DavidSchwartz Don't expect politicians to make any sensible laws when it comes to computer stuff. –  Philipp Jun 23 at 20:18

1 Answer 1

This is an area where you would be best consulting a lawyer for a definitive answer. We can expound on this topic to our hearts content (and I have chosen to do so below) but don't just believe us.

My reading of the Computer Misuse Act is that it does seem to prohibit writing about specific means that can be used to break into a specific computer system. In fact, it is almost certainly this provision which can be used to prosecute those who write malicious software (viruses, worms etc.). However, keep in mind that the Human Rights Act also protects your right to free speech. Which act takes precedent in a certain situation is something a lawyer can explain better than anyone on this site. I would suggest that a document detailing facts is more akin to distributing knowledge and therefore protected by free speech legislation (I'm happy to hear other suggestions).

A lawyer conversant with such things would be able to explain what is meant by "article" in this context. You obviously mean a document stating how to carry out certain procedures (i.e. how to do a port scan) whereas that provision of the act appears to me to be talking as much about programmes or data (for example tailored exploit code or a virus).

It would be analogous to being caught carrying a flick knife or lock picks. They have a specific use, and mostly used for committing crimes (though someone has told me before carrying lock picks is a grey area; IANAL). If you wrote an article "The steps you need to bypass company 's security measures and access their secret database MWAHAHAHA" then you are almost certainly breaking the law. However, an article which merely specified how nmap works in general wouldn't be an issue.

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In Canada and the USA, falsely yelling 'fire' in a crowded theatre is not covered under 'free speech' laws. Neither is 'hate speech'. I do not know the UK laws yet, but I would imagine that speech that is designed to intentionally cause real harm to another would not be protected. That could conceivably cover writing about hacking. But, every government is trying to figure this out. I expect many missteps for a while. –  schroeder Apr 4 '12 at 17:17
Yes it is similar in the UK. I was trying to convey that sort of difference in my answer. There's a big difference between saying "web servers are often vulnerable to SQL injection like blah" and "This site has a vulnerability that can be exploited with an SQL injection such as this and you can then steal all their credit card details". I hope that came across in my answer. –  webtoe Apr 5 '12 at 7:31
it did - I was enhancing your answer :) –  schroeder Apr 5 '12 at 14:28

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