Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

Leave a Key Under Your Doormat: Apple, Google, Microsoft Attack UK Government Plans to Hack Into Your Computer

The UK government has proposed a new law that would allow law enforcement to hack into any computer systems to access data. If the law is passed, the government could easily obtain a secret search warrant granting legal permission to hack into the computers of terrorists, drug dealers, corporations, banks, churches, or your home computer and even your cell phone.

The draft Investigatory Powers Bill would allow the intelligence and security services, police and the armed forces to hack into devices to obtain data and communications. The government argues that the hacking provisions – part of the wider internet surveillance legislation – are needed so that law enforcement can intercept the communications of criminals even when those communications are encrypted. Proponents ignore the fact that the proposed legislation would create a privacy nightmare. The government could spy on its own citizens and others in a scale that only George Orwell was able to imagine.

Obviously, privacy experts and concerned citizens are fighting this proposal. So are many corporations, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo. “To the extent this could involve the introduction of risks or vulnerabilities into products or services, it would be a very dangerous precedent to set, and we would urge your government to reconsider,” they said. A new paper from the group, made up of 14 of the world’s pre-eminent cryptographers and computer scientists, the group warned of dire consequences if this proposed legislation is enacted.

In its submission Apple said the plans would put tech companies in a very difficult position. “For the consumer in, say, Germany, this might represent hacking of their data by an Irish business on behalf of the UK state under a bulk warrant – activity which the provider is not even allowed to confirm or deny. Maintaining trust in such circumstances will be extremely difficult.”

The full report is available at

You can read more about this situation in an article by Nicole Perlroth in the New York Times at

My comment: If the UK government is able to hack into your computer, it won’t be long before the same technology will become public. Within a very few months, the Chinese government, the credit card hackers in Uzbekistan and other countries, along with the 12-year-old who lives up the street, will all be able to do the same. The hacking activities soon will not be limited only to accessing computers of suspected terrorists and drug dealers. Your computer can be hacked as easily as anyone else’s.

Your bank account information, credit card numbers, and all sorts of other personal information will become widely available to all sorts of unknown people who have evil intentions. History has proven that secrets typically do not remain secret for very long.

Categories: Legal Affairs

1 reply

  1. Presumably it will be simple to get round this by keeping all significant data on an external drive which is unplugged whenever the computer is connected to the internet, and anything on the computer that you want to hide (downloaded data, cookies, browser history, Windows logs of activities, etc.) is thoroughly cleaned off before going on-line again.

    Of course this will be a minor inconvenience, but terrorists will put up with that and be the first to do it. Eventually the only people to suffer being spied on will be the innocent non-tech savvy users and those blasé individuals who say “I’ve got nothing to hide”


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