Today, Privacy International takes GCHQ on the charges of working with the Unites States National Security Agency to develop and deploy viruses (malware). The privacy campaign group has accused the UK agency of also hacking into computers cameras and mobile phones. The group is demanding that all data which the agency has gathered from their hacking activities should be destroyed and made illegal.
GCHQ is the United Kingdom’s cyber surveillance agency. Both GCHQ and NSA have attracted much public attention since 2013 when Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee, and NSA subcontractor released tons of classified global surveillance documents from the NSA and GCHQ to the media.
Snowden had left the US in May for Hong Kong, before the disclosures which happened in June. He is reported to currently be living in Russia while he seeks asylum in another nation; he has a 3-year asylum permit in Russia. The most damning disclosure by Snowden is that both GCHQ and NSA can gain access to private phones without the users’ knowledge and permission, operate the phones, and even use them as tracking devices.
Immediately after the disclosures, the government attempted to make global surveillance legitimate by drafting the Investigatory Powers Bill. This triggered protests from Privacy International, since May 2014, declaring that the act of global cyber surveillance has not been adequately regulated.
The group states the fears that the activities of the agency if left unbridled will unleash a global intrusion and violation of privacy around the world. The privacy group opines that stricter regulatory measures, ethics, and codes of conduct should be imposed on the practice of computer network exploitation.
The group stated that the draft Investigatory Powers Bill if passed into law, would further propagate the act of government hacking which would certainly set off a ripple effect around the world. They also think it is a serious security threat to privacy.
Privacy International is insisting on having the hacking of computers and mobile devices ruled illegal. So, to court they go.