UK government has brought out alterations in Computer Misuse Act wherein the intelligence agency and law enforcement to be exempted from anti-hacking laws. Authorities like GCHQ, Police and other intelligence officers will get power to hack any laptops, tablets, computers, phones legally under the new amendments. This act was amended and passed in early March but it came to effect from May. Many privacy and rights activists are against this when they heard that the legal move regarding the illegal hacking activities can be legalised by the government.
The new amendments should specify in the act as to what type of crime can justify hacking by the government and if warrant is needed and how it would work. Activists noted that there was lack of debate by public over this or there was no consultation done with any other bodies regarding the same. Deputy Director of Privacy International, Eric King told that the way the government is making the lawful GCHQ’s hacking operations was very undemocratic and disgraceful. A week before this the government had advertised that they were recruiting hackers or those who could carry out the computer actions against the offenders who pose danger to UK. Clause 10 which was amended prevents any officer from being involved in a crime when that person hacks into any computer of the suspected criminal. No category of offences are stated clearly that are covered in it. This amendment is made to give legal cover to all the domestic investigations. Lawyer representing Privacy International, Ben Jaffey told that hacking was considered unlawful in the country. Jaffey further told the tribunal that hacking will be very damaging as it involves opening up somebody’s computer without their knowledge. We cannot know if the damage that will happen during hacking attack is good or not. The amendments to Computer Misuse Act was made by introducing Serious Crime Act 2015 that was given assent by Royal in March 2015. Professor Peter Sommer who is one of the UK’s leading expert told that he got the information regarding the amendments recently. Privacy International had filed complaints challenging GCHQ’s hacking activities with IPT and the matter will be heard in autumn.
by Sushma Javare.