Privacy

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
activists, hackers, scotland yard, uk



Whistleblower Says UK Police Worked With Hackers To Access Activists' Email Accounts

from the redefining-'terrorism,'-one-abuse-at-a-time dept

Here come even more revelations of surveillance abuse by UK law enforcement. To date, various law enforcement agencies have been exposed as participating in very broad readings of very broadly-written anti-terrorism laws to spy on journalists and activists. The latest abuse detailed by The Guardian concerns the surveillance of activists by UK law enforcement on behalf of a foreign government.

The police watchdog is investigating allegations that a secretive Scotland Yard unit used hackers to illegally access the private emails of hundreds of political campaigners and journalists.

The allegations were made by an anonymous individual who says the unit worked with Indian police, who in turn used hackers to illegally obtain the passwords of the email accounts of the campaigners, and some reporters and press photographers.

[...]

Hacked passwords were passed to the Metropolitan police unit, according to the writer of the letter, which then regularly checked the emails of the campaigners and the media to gather information. The letter to Jones listed the passwords of environmental campaigners, four of whom were from Greenpeace. Several confirmed they matched the ones they had used to open their emails.

This is more of the same for any UK agencies with access to surveillance tools and easily-abusable laws. These complaints are adding to the pile sitting in front of the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Not that the Commission will ever get to the bottom of this, as it's finding its oversight being thwarted by the agencies it's assigned to oversee.

Last month the IPCC said it had uncovered evidence suggesting the documents had been destroyed despite a specific instruction that files should be preserved to be examined by a judge-led public inquiry into the undercover policing of political groups.

The letter claimed that the shredding “has been happening for some time and on a far greater scale than the IPCC seems to be aware of”. The author added that “the main reason for destroying these documents is that they reveal that [police] officers were engaged in illegal activities to obtain intelligence on protest groups”

It's unclear what the Indian police -- who used hackers to obtain account passwords -- were looking for or why they turned to Scotland Yard for assistance. Those whose accounts were accessed were far from dangerous individuals. Although the activists may be vehemently opposed to UK government policies and the actions of several major corporations, the worst of the worst of those confirmed to be surveilled did 80 hours hard time community service stemming from an incident where unwanted solar panels were forcibly installed on a deputy prime minister's house.

Presumably, the valuable info snagged from hacked accounts gave police on both sides heads up on planned demonstrations, as well as any other non-protest-related conversations the activists might have had. Considering what flows into the average email account, police could have gained access to financial transactions, medical information, and conversations between activists and those with zero interest in making the world a subjectively better place.

Fortunately, the documentation backing up the hacking accusations is still in the hands of repentant hackers, rather than headed for the Scotland Yard shredder.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Mar 2017 @ 11:39am

    Not even pretending otherwise

    Last month the IPCC said it had uncovered evidence suggesting the documents had been destroyed despite a specific instruction that files should be preserved to be examined by a judge-led public inquiry into the undercover policing of political groups.

    The letter claimed that the shredding “has been happening for some time and on a far greater scale than the IPCC seems to be aware of”. The author added that “the main reason for destroying these documents is that they reveal that [police] officers were engaged in illegal activities to obtain intelligence on protest groups

    Yeah, when police can blatantly destroy evidence like that it's a pretty good indicator that they have lost any respect towards the laws and legal system. That they consider themselves above any trivialities like 'orders from a judge' and/or figure that they'll be able to somehow survive the slap on the wrist that will be handed out.

    Bad enough when they keep up the facade of respect towards the laws, but when they don't even bother with that much... that does not bode well for the future.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 23 Mar 2017 @ 1:25pm

      Re: Not even pretending otherwise

      In other words, when you see one of them coming towards you...shoot early, shoot often, and keep shooting until the threat is gone or they kill you.

      Because a quick death is probably preferable to whatever they want to do to you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 23 Mar 2017 @ 12:38pm

    an incident where unwanted solar panels were forcibly installed on a deputy prime minister's house.

    That actually sounds kind of awesome.

    Intrusive and illegal, sure, but still, you just have to admire someone who's able to actually pull off a stunt like that!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2017 @ 1:14pm

    Given their history, this story seems rather tame.

    "Two undercover police officers secretly fathered children with political campaigners they had been sent to spy on and later disappeared completely from the lives of their offspring"

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/jan/20/undercover-police-children-activists

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2017 @ 2:14pm

    Maybe I'm misreading but the article is saying that Scotland Yard went to Indian Police/hackers so is this a typo? "It's unclear what the Indian police -- who used hackers to obtain account passwords -- were looking for or why they turned to Scotland Yard for assistance."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Cowardly Lion, 24 Mar 2017 @ 12:14am

      More fishy than Baldrick's apple crumble

      "...concerns the surveillance of activists by UK law enforcement on behalf of a foreign government."

      I'm reading this as the Indian cops turning to the UK cops for help (as you do), who then turned to a bunch of hackers for help (as you do).

      What vexes me is a) why both the Indian and UK cops are not using their own hacking capabilities (which the Met certainly have), and b) why the UK cops didn't turn to their GCHQ, who, as they're actually sniffing the wires, probably have these eMails already on hand. Actually I think the reason is obvious; this is so massively unofficial (illegal) it needs to be under the radar. It couldn't be more obvious that these evil-doers are up to some shady skullduggery, as we see by the panicky Ollie North style shredding...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2017 @ 1:21am

    So they didnt get teressa snopper may

    What was the good news then



    Corruption in the uk is vexingly shocking

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 24 Mar 2017 @ 4:21am

    It's clear who are the enemies. Terrorism is just an excuse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Howard II, 24 Mar 2017 @ 7:20am

    I thought of a news headline...

    So-called "anti-terrorist" powers used to spy on non-terrorists, meanwhile actual terrorists allowed to commit acts of terrorism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2017 @ 10:46pm

    B-b-b-ut the errorists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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