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Thursday, 8 January 2009

New powers for police to hack your PC

I first noticed this story on the Eset blog and though absolutely disgusted (if true, I've not seen anything that verifies what The Independent is telling us yet), am finding myself laughing hysterically at the same time.

The story reads in part:

Police have been given the power to hack into personal computers without a court warrant. The Home Office is facing anger and the threat of a legal challenge after granting permission. Ministers are also drawing up plans to allow police across the EU to collect information from computers in Britain.

The moves will fuel claims that the Government is presiding over a steady extension of the "surveillance society" threatening personal privacy.

Hacking – known as "remote searching" – has been quietly adopted by police across Britain following the development of technology to access computers' contents at a distance. Police say it is vital for tracking cyber-criminals and paedophiles and is used sparingly but civil liberties groups fear it is about to be vastly expanded.

Okay, a few problems here, firstly "Hacking" is not known as "remote searching", it is known as gaining unauthorised entry to a system via exploit or vulnerability (a real hacker doesn't need a trojan pre-planted on the system to access your PC). If that were the case, any VNC/remote desktop software could be classed as "hacking" - something it quite clearly is not, searching Google could be classed as "remote searching" since you are searching a remote system - something it most definately is not (little to the extreme there I know, but their article is vague at best). For a more accurate description of hacking and hackers, see the following;

Computer hacking has to be approved by a chief constable, who must be satisfied the action is proportionate to the crime being investigated.

Here lies one of the biggest problems. If the crime being investigated warrants hacking into someones computer, then why does it not warrant getting an err - warrant to LEGALLY search their computer? I am 100% sure that this is going to be abused by the police to plant "evidence" for those they can't get any other way. Thats how they do it now, why change? Especially when they are performance based.

A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said police carried out 194 hacking operations in 2007-08 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, including 133 in private homes, 37 in offices and 24 in hotel rooms.

The spokesman said such surveillance was regulated under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

"The police service in the United Kingdom will aggressively pursue serious and organised criminality, including where that takes the modern forms of hi-tech crime," he added.

Correct me if I am wrong but, wasn't RIPA meant for preventing terrorism? How exactly does that translate into allowing them to hack into all and sundry's computers whenever they feel like it?

The first Britons will receive biometric identity cards at the end of the year, paving the way to the world's largest identity register. Genetic details of more than four million people are on the DNA national database, the highest proportion of any Western country.

You'll not be getting me to allow you to get my damn DNA or any form of "biometric identity card". They can't even keep their own employee's data safe, how can they keep this safe?

Regardless of the above, if this is true, then we've got serious problems (not that we didn't already) in that the Police now have far too much power - power they most definately should not have. Unfortunately however, without verification one way or the other, thats all this is - pure speculation. All I do know, is I already do not trust the UK police force, and this is just one more reason not to trust them - they have been proven to be corrupt before, many times.

Read the full article at:

New powers for police to hack your PC

Kudos to David Harley (Eset) for the heads up;

Magic Lantern Show in the UK?

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