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U.K. Government Use of 'General Warrants' to Authorize Computer, Phone Hacking Is Unlawful: Court

By Computer Weekly

January 11, 2021

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The U.K.'s High Court has ruled that government security and intelligence services cannot use "general warrants" to indiscriminately hack domestic mobile phones and computers.

The court declared neither GCHQ nor MI5 can use warrants issued under Section 5 of the Intelligence Services Act to interfere with electronic gear and other property.

The implication is that targets for hacking must be scrutinized by a secretary of state, rather than permitting surveillance to be authorized solely by intelligence agencies.

The High Court judges cited common law principles established more than 250 years ago in determining that general hacking warrants breached individuals' rights not to have their property searched without lawful authority.

Said Caroline Wilson Pallow at charity Privacy International, “General warrants are no more permissible today than they were in the 18th century. The government has been getting away with using them for too long.”

From Computer Weekly


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