New legislation exempting police, GCHQ and other officers from intelligence department from prosecution in a connection to mobile and computer hacking by the said government guns, has been passed by the UK Government – quietly!
While normally controversial or major legislative changes in law tend to go through a parliamentary process like democratic debate, prior to getting passed, in this particular case the change in Computer Misuse Act had been made as secondary legislation right under the radar.
As per Privacy International, it seems like that no commissioners or regulators are responsible in overseeing intelligence agencies, Information Commissioner Office, NGOs, industry or even the public were consulted or notified about this legislative change. No public debate is made!
The amendment to law is resulted from a complaint Privacy International filed last year, suggests Privacy International. Seven communications providers alongside Privacy International filed a complaint in May 2014 with the UK IPT (Investigatory Powers Tribunal), claiming that the GCHQ’s hacking practices were against the UK Computer Misuse Act.
On June 6th, right after a couple of weeks from the date complaint was filed, UK government implemented new legislation in the Serious Crime Bill, which would lawfully allow intelligence officers, police, and of course GCHQ to hack into computers and phones without any criminal liability. Same bill later got passed as a law on 3rd March (this year), and then on May 3 it became effective. Privacy International states no public debate was made before the law got enacted, with just a rather one sided set of the stakeholders who got consulted – the stakeholders include Ministry of Justice, Scotland Office, Crown Prosecution Service, Northern Ireland Office, National Crime Agency, GCHQ and police.
Legal experts at Privacy International remarked about the change to Computer Misuse Act as, “grants UK law enforcement new leeway to potentially conduct cyber attacks within the UK.”
Despite filing their complaint way back in year 2014, Privacy International folks were not informed about the Computer Misuse Act amendment until the last week; prior to new legislation becoming effective. Now, of course, the government in UK is pretty allowed to do so, but it is pretty undemocratic and underhanded than what everyone expects.
Ali Qamar is an Internet security research enthusiast who enjoys “deep” research to dig out modern discoveries in the security industry. He is the founder and chief editor at Security Gladiators, an ultimate source for cyber security. To be frank and honest, Ali started working online as a freelancer and still shares the knowledge for a living. He is passionate about sharing the knowledge with people, and always try to give only the best. Follow Ali on Twitter @AliQammar57
(Security Affairs – UK Government, hacking)