By David Leppard
The Sunday Times
January 4, 2009
THE Home Office has quietly adopted a new plan to allow police across
Britain routinely to hack into people's personal computers without a
The move, which follows a decision by the European Union.s council of
ministers in Brussels, has angered civil liberties groups and opposition
MPs. They described it as a sinister extension of the surveillance state
which drives "a coach and horses" through privacy laws.
The hacking is known as "remote searching". It allows police or MI5
officers who may be hundreds of miles away to examine covertly the hard
drive of someone's PC at his home, office or hotel room.
Material gathered in this way includes the content of all e-mails,
web-browsing habits and instant messaging.
Under the Brussels edict, police across the EU have been given the green
light to expand the implementation of a rarely used power involving
warrantless intrusive surveillance of private property. The strategy
will allow French, German and other EU forces to ask British officers to
hack into someone's UK computer and pass over any material gleaned.
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