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The Times: Police set to step up hacking of home PCs

The Times | 05.01.2009 13:55 | Repression | Technology | Terror War | Sheffield

Just when you thought the attacks on privacy couldn't get worse... If you still need a reason to switch to Linux then read the following extracts from a Sunday Times article:

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 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.

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 Times
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Display the following 27 comments

  1. Fuck the state — I'd like to see them try
  2. I'd like to see them try — They wouldn't have to try very hard
  3. Encryption — hms brittian number
  4. Future proof? — Netcu Watch
  5. dumb people — stalebread
  6. article — sue denim
  7. The security industry. — Not a fool.
  8. You'd like to see them try — Anne Archivist
  9. tips????? — one of many
  10. Peek-a-boo watching you — Francis H. Giles
  11. To avoid keyloggers — anon
  12. Gmail et al — anon
  13. To they wouldn't have to try very hard — I'd like to see them try
  14. Poor old Bill — xMCSE
  15. my pc — e-best option
  16. responce to i'd like to see them try 2 — sue denim
  17. I'd like to see them try — They wouldn't have to try very hard
  18. To they wouldn't have to try very hard — I'd like to see them try
  19. Least bad UK ISP ? — xMCSE
  20. I'd like to see them try — They wouldn't have to try very hard
  21. @I'd like to see them try — anon
  22. lets face it its more than a chance you gambler you! — sue denim
  23. oh and — sue denim
  24. Deja Vuntu — xMCSE
  25. xMCSE — They wouldn't have to try very hard
  26. @They wouldn't have to try very hard — xMCSE
  27. MSc != MSCE — g33k