Illegal Access to Information Systems in the Qatari Criminal Law: A Comparative Study

Dr. Sami Hamdan Al-Rawashdeh
Associate Professor of Criminal Law – School of Law – University of Qatar


The illegal access to computer networks and information systems has become a widespread phenomenon in light of the tremendous development in the ICT sectors, which requires the implementation of criminal law rules to counter this emerging pattern of criminal activity. As a result, the United States, the United Kingdom and Qatar issued special criminal legislation to combat all forms of cybercrime, including the crime of illegal access of information systems. However, these statutes do not specifically provide definition of an “illegal access”. The USA and UK judicial jurisprudence provide different and inconsistent interpretations in this regard.
This study aims at providing a comprehensive analysis of the concept of «illegal access to information systems», in both national and comparative laws, as well as the judiciary efforts in defining such crime. This study reveals that the legal provisions relating to illegal access to the information systems are ineffective and vague, and that their jurisprudence is contradictory and inconsistent. As a result, there is an urgent need for a model legislative regulation that addresses the provisions of this crime clearly.
The Qatari law and courts do not define “illegal access”. The prohibition against unauthorized access to computers is new, and remains a mystery, vague and indistinct. Accordingly, there is a clear need to amend the Qatari Prevention of Cybercrimes Act 2014, in order to set up clear guidelines spelling out the meaning of “illegal access” so as to be relied upon by the judiciary.
Illegal Access, Information Systems, The Qatari Criminal Law, Comparative Law, Cybercrimes.

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