Computer-related forgery (Article 7)

81. The purpose of this article is to create a parallel offence to the forgery of tangible documents. It aims at filling gaps in criminal law related to traditional forgery, which requires visual readability of statements, or declarations embodied in a document and which does not apply to electronically stored data. Manipulations of such data with evidentiary value may have the same serious consequences as traditional acts of forgery if a third party is thereby misled. Computer-related forgery involves unauthorised creating or altering stored data so that they acquire a different evidentiary value in the course of legal transactions, which relies on the authenticity of information contained in the data, is subject to a deception. The protected legal interest is the security and reliability of electronic data which may have consequences for legal relations.

82. It should be noted that national concepts of forgery vary greatly. One concept is based on the authenticity as to the author of the document, and others are based on the truthfulness of the statement contained in the document. However, it was agreed that the deception as to authenticity refers at minimum to the issuer of the data, regardless of the correctness or veracity of the contents of the data. Parties may go further and include under the term “authentic” the genuineness of the data.

83. This provision covers data which is the equivalent of a public or private document, which has legal effects. The unauthorised “input” of correct or incorrect data brings about a situation that corresponds to the making of a false document. Subsequent alterations (modifications, variations, partial changes), deletions (removal of data from a data medium) and suppression (holding back, concealment of data) correspond in general to the falsification of a genuine document.

84. The term “for legal purposes” refers also to legal transactions and documents which are legally relevant.

85. The final sentence of the provision allows Parties, when implementing the offence in domestic law, to require in addition an intent to defraud, or similar dishonest intent, before criminal liability attaches.