British police may remotely hack into personal computers and e-mail without warrant

Britain's Home Office will allow police to remotely hack into anyone's computer without a warrant. From the Times:

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.

The move follows a green light from the European Union, and also permits British police to access U.K. residents' computers at the behest of investigators from other countries. This could allow the British to conduct searches on behalf of local agencies bound by more restrictive policies, sharing the results back with them.

I've been talking folks in the U.K about this, and I think their opinion sums up why no-one there takes this sort of thing seriously. Americans assume a level of competence in bureaucracy, no matter how disorganized its visible operations. The British, however, believe their civil service and police are institutionally stupid, barely capable of executing their basic functions. So the Brits simply can't take seriously the idea that assigning police more powers will affect much of anything.

Police set to step up hacking of home PCs [Times]

About Rob Beschizza

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