Altnets demand tougher sentences for attacks on critical network infrastructure

The altnets independent network suppliers’ association (INCA) has demanded tougher sentencing laws and a wide-ranging review of the security of the UK’s physical networks following a spate of severe, targeted attacks on full fibre critical internet infrastructure across the country.

Attacks have been witnessed in a host of locations from rural Wales to London, Liverpool and Sheffield, cutting off homes, businesses and essential public services, including hospitals.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), Michelle Donelan, the altnets have called for the perpetrators of attacks on critical digital infrastructure to receive tougher sentences and fines to act as a deterrent. They add that the severity of the penalties should reflect the potential risks to life and the critical role that full fibre plays in keeping communities connected and safe.

The group is also calling on direction from the UK government to ensure police forces prioritise engagement with attacks on critical digital infrastructure, in line with their impact on communities and the economy.

The letter has been signed by industry chiefs representing investors, network builders and ISPs.

Calling on the UK and devolved governments to do more, Ogi chief executive officer Ben Allwright, said, "Working with the UK and devolved governments now means we can make sure this infrastructure – feeding our homes, businesses and critical public services – is backed by laws that are fit for purpose, deterring those who aim to sabotage the connectivity we increasingly lean on for our working, social, and day-to-day lives. Now is the time for us to get around the table to make sure this vital infrastructure has the protection it needs."

Vorboss CEO Tim Creswick said, "Change is needed to protect the country’s digital infrastructure. We’ve raised these concerns after a series of attacks on telecoms networks. Resilience of digital connectivity should be a critical priority, and DSIT and Ofcom have the responsibility to affect these important changes. A review of current rules is desperately needed, from sentencing to policing to enforcing industry compliance."

The letter has been shared with DSIT and Ofcom leadership teams – including the minister for data and digital infrastructure Julia Lopez MP, and Ofcom CEO Melanie Dawes – devolved governments and their officials, business leaders and local authorities.


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