UK Government Admits Intelligence Services Allowed To Break Into Any System, Anywhere, For Any Reason
from the confession-time dept
Recently, Techdirt noted that the FBI may soon have permission to break into computers anywhere on the planet. It will come as no surprise to learn that the US’s partner in crime, the UK, granted similar powers to its own intelligence services some time back. What’s more unexpected is that it has now publicly said as much, as Privacy International explains:
The British Government has admitted its intelligence services have the broad power to hack into personal phones, computers, and communications networks, and claims they are legally justifed to hack anyone, anywhere in the world, even if the target is not a threat to national security nor suspected of any crime.
Buried deep within the document, Government lawyers claim that while the intelligence services require authorisation to hack into the computer and mobile phones of “intelligence targets”, GCHQ is equally permitted to break into computers anywhere in the world even if they are not connected to a crime or a threat to national security.
The intelligence services assert the right to exploit communications networks in covert manoeuvres that severely undermine the security of the entire internet. The deployment of such powers is confirmed by recent news stories detailing how GCHQ hacked into Belgacom using the malware Regin, and targeted Gemalto, the world’s largest maker of SIM cards used in countries around the world.
What’s important about this revelation is not just the information itself — many people had assumed this was the case — but the fact that once more, bringing court cases against the UK’s GCHQ has ferreted out numerous details that were previously secret. This shows the value of the strategy, and suggests it should be used again where possible.