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Offences on Hacking: Criminal Damage

Virus is a computer program and is the result of someone developing a mischievous program that is self-replicating. Computer program is digitized information easily transmisable on the Internet. Virus can therefore likewise be transmitted on the Internet easily not bound by territory. Because it is self-replicating, computers can be infected in large scale and in very short period of time.

Hong Kong does not have a specific legislation on hacking. People sending virus can be subject to the criminal charge of criminal damage. The offence reads as follows:-

Destroying or damaging property

A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.

(2) A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property, whether belonging to himself or another:

(a) intending to destroy or damage any property or being reckless as to whether any property would be destroyed or damaged; and

(b) intending by the destruction or damage to endanger the life of another or being reckless as to whether the life of another would be thereby endangered,

shall be guilty of an offence.

Threats to destroy or damage property

A person who without lawful excuse makes to another a threat, intending that that other would fear it would be carried out:

(a) to destroy or damage any property belonging to that other or a third person; or

(b) to destroy or damage his own property in a way which he knows is likely to endanger the life of that other or a third person,

shall be guilty of an offence.

Before its amendment, 'property' does not include computer program and 'damage' can only be done to physical objects. Section 59, Crimes Ordinance has now covered these situations:

>"property" (財產) means inter alia property of a tangible nature, whether real or personal, including money and any program, or data, held in a computer or in a computer storage medium, whether or not the program or data is property of a tangible nature.

  • "to destroy or damage any property" (摧毀或損壞財產) in relation to a computer includes the misuse of a computer. In this subsection, "misuse of a computer" (誤用電腦) means:

    (a) to cause a computer to function other than as it has been established to function by or on behalf of its owner, notwithstanding that the misuse may not impair the operation of the computer or a program held in the computer or the reliability of data held in the computer;

    (b) to alter or erase any program or data held in a computer or in a computer storage medium;

    (c) to add any program or data to the contents of a computer or of a computer storage medium, and any act which contributes towards causing the misuse of a kind referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) shall be regarded as causing it.