UK Police set to step up hacking of home PCs 24 replies

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the1chaos VIP Member

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16th January 2004

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#1 10 years ago

I'm surprised no-one has posted this yet - I've only just read it myself.

Spoiler: Show

THE Home Office has quietly adopted a new plan to allow police across Britain routinely to hack into people’s personal computers without a warrant.

The move, which follows a decision by the European Union’s council of ministers in Brussels, has angered civil liberties groups and opposition MPs. They described it as a sinister extension of the surveillance state which drives “a coach and horses” through privacy laws.

The hacking is known as “remote searching”. It allows police or MI5 officers who may be hundreds of miles away to examine covertly the hard drive of someone’s PC at his home, office or hotel room.

Material gathered in this way includes the content of all e-mails, web-browsing habits and instant messaging.

Under the Brussels edict, police across the EU have been given the green light to expand the implementation of a rarely used power involving warrantless intrusive surveillance of private property. The strategy will allow French, German and other EU forces to ask British officers to hack into someone’s UK computer and pass over any material gleaned.

A remote search can be granted if a senior officer says he “believes” that it is “proportionate” and necessary to prevent or detect serious crime — defined as any offence attracting a jail sentence of more than three years.

However, opposition MPs and civil liberties groups say that the broadening of such intrusive surveillance powers should be regulated by a new act of parliament and court warrants.

They point out that in contrast to the legal safeguards for searching a suspect’s home, police undertaking a remote search do not need to apply to a magistrates’ court for a warrant.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, the human rights group, said she would challenge the legal basis of the move. “These are very intrusive powers – as intrusive as someone busting down your door and coming into your home,” she said.

“The public will want this to be controlled by new legislation and judicial authorisation. Without those safeguards it’s a devastating blow to any notion of personal privacy.”

She said the move had parallels with the warrantless police search of the House of Commons office of Damian Green, the Tory MP: “It’s like giving police the power to do a Damian Green every day but to do it without anyone even knowing you were doing it.”

Richard Clayton, a researcher at Cambridge University’s computer laboratory, said that remote searches had been possible since 1994, although they were very rare. An amendment to the Computer Misuse Act 1990 made hacking legal if it was authorised and carried out by the state.

He said the authorities could break into a suspect’s home or office and insert a “key-logging” device into an individual’s computer. This would collect and, if necessary, transmit details of all the suspect’s keystrokes. “It’s just like putting a secret camera in someone’s living room,” he said.

Police might also send an e-mail to a suspect’s computer. The message would include an attachment that contained a virus or “malware”. If the attachment was opened, the remote search facility would be covertly activated. Alternatively, police could park outside a suspect’s home and hack into his or her hard drive using the wireless network.

Police say that such methods are necessary to investigate suspects who use cyberspace to carry out crimes. These include paedophiles, internet fraudsters, identity thieves and terrorists.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said such intrusive surveillance was closely regulated under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. A spokesman said police were already carrying out a small number of these operations which were among 194 clandestine searches last year of people’s homes, offices and hotel bedrooms.

“To be a valid authorisation, the officer giving it must believe that when it is given it is necessary to prevent or detect serious crime and [the] action is proportionate to what it seeks to achieve,” Acpo said.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, agreed that the development may benefit law enforcement. But he added: “The exercise of such intrusive powers raises serious privacy issues. The government must explain how they would work in practice and what safeguards will be in place to prevent abuse.”

The Home Office said it was working with other EU states to develop details of the proposals.

Source - The Times.

This is very, very scary. The fact that no warrant is needed, and a "senior officer" only has to "believe that it's proportionate" that the computer is searched..

This smells like police state, and I fear that if it is completely implemented in the UK - it might only be a matter of time before the rest of Europe is set with this as well. Fighting terrorism, peadophiles and such is all fine and dandy - but you need a warrant to bust open that door. Be it a real door, or a virtual one.




Serio VIP Member

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11th November 2006

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#2 10 years ago

What stops them from hacking into computers in, say, the US? Legally gaining access to the most top secret cases the CIA has? And i thought the US was bad about privacy, now the UK is following. Wait, did i say "Privacy"? I meant the illusion of privacy.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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26th May 2003

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#3 10 years ago

As I mentioned elsewhere: We've been going this way for a long time now. Did you know a police officer can physically search you without a reason or a warrant now; wherever you are and whatever you're doing?




Junk angel

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29th January 2007

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#4 10 years ago

What stops them from hacking into computers in, say, the US? Legally gaining access to the most top secret cases the CIA has? And i thought the US was bad about privacy, now the UK is following. Wait, did i say "Privacy"? I meant the illusion of privacy.

Those US computers would have to be on british soil first.

To be honest, I don't like it. I don't like it all. Even weirder that I've never hard of anything like that coming from the EU before.




Jeff Über Admin

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#5 10 years ago

It didn't take long for the EU government to become a bit power hungry, yeesh.


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Dot Com

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26th June 2000

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#6 10 years ago

1984-movie-bb2_a.jpg

The United States isn't too far off from the United Kingdom's Orwellian Utopia. I just hope the pig bastards don't bust down my door while I'm rubbing one out...




Granyaski VIP Member

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#7 10 years ago

It's our bloody terror threat here....as well as all the crime especially from the immigration boom....

The fact that they can invade your own computer is quite scary, call me sad but I wouldn't want ANYONE snooping around what I've been on....loads of nasty and troublesome things. The fact that no warrant is the worst and how only a senior officer has to give the word for them to burst through the door unexpectantly and what if they find other things?or nothing?or petty things? and the malware stuff....I hope no-one falls for it, if they do send the emails they are as bad as advertisers...it's sickening for me.




Asheekay

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#8 10 years ago
Nemmerle;4755679As I mentioned elsewhere: We've been going this way for a long time now. Did you know a police officer can physically search you without a reason or a warrant now; wherever you are and whatever you're doing?

Better than India where the army can SHOOT YOU DEAD on a mere suspicion. Thanks Providence I'm not in India.

Plus when a state goes on the path of Fascism, it appears that its only the other states which will suffer, but sooner or later, a Fascist state has to develop dictatorship in its governance and its own citizens have to savor its actions.




AlDaja

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#9 10 years ago

This is exactly why I have problems with those who side with the control mongers that reside too far to the right or left of social political philosophy. It opens the door for fascism and widdles away personal freedoms.




Ipse

The Great Charm

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14th April 2007

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#10 10 years ago

The internet is the internet, you don't need any porno or shitty youtube videos to survive.