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Home Office denies adoption of EU remote snooping plan

Posted by James Hammerton @ 7:07 pm on 11 January, 2009.
Categories privacy and surveillance, British politics, European Union politics.
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The Register reports that the Home Office has denied reports suggesting it had adopted EU proposals to allow remote snooping of computers by the police:

The Home Office has denied it has made any change to rules governing how police can remotely snoop on people’s computers.

Any such remote hack - which normally requires physical access to a computer or network or the use of a key-logging virus - is governed by Ripa - and the rules have not changed. But European discussions on giving police more access are underway - we reported on the meeting of ministers in October. But despite this Sunday Times story, no change has yet been made. The paper claimed the Home Office: “has quietly adopted a new plan to allow police across Britain routinely to hack into people’s personal computers”.

A spokesman for the Home Office told the Reg that UK police can already snoop - but these activities are governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and the Surveillance Commissioner. He said changes had been proposed at the last Interior Ministers’ meeting, but nothing has happened since.

The German Interior Ministry explained at the time that “almost all partner countries have or intend to have in the near future national laws allowing access to computer hard drives and other data storage devices located on their territory”. But the Germans noted the legal basis of transnational searches is not in place and ministers were looking for ways to rectify this. (emphasis added)

The emphasised section implies British police already have this power.

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