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.

The UK’s Unexplained Wealth Order is a Huge Invasion of Privacy

The Unexplained Wealth Order is a new power which has been designed to target suspected corrupt foreign officials who have potentially laundered stolen money through the UK. However, its use isn’t limited to foreign officials.

According to Wikipedia, “Incorporated into UK law in January 2018 as part of the Criminal Finances Act 2017, an unexplained wealth order is a type of court order issued by a British court to compel someone to reveal the sources of their unexplained wealth. Persons who fail to account are liable to have assets seized after the National Crime Agency makes a successful appeal to the High Court.”

If a suspect cannot show a legitimate source for their riches, then the National Crime Agency can apply to the High Court to seize the property.

Of course, most people are in favor of identifying criminals. However, the powers created by this new order are so widespread that it can be used against almost anyone for almost any purpose. Did you win a few pounds on a recent football game? The Unexplained Wealth Order could force you to explain to the government where you obtained the cash and also presumably force you to pay taxes on the gains or else go to jail. OK, that doesn’t sound so bad but what if you profited from last year’s rise in the price of Bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies?

The Unexplained Wealth Order probably will be used only against obviously high net worth individuals, at least for now. However, it apparently is not limited only to the wealthy. As computers continue to monitor more and more of everyone’s financial transactions, even your payments at Sainsbury’s, the new Order could easily be expanded to monitor the spending habits of every individual in the UK.

You can read more in an article by Marie Bourke in the Financial Times web site at:

Categories: Legal Affairs

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