Charity makes legal bid against GCHQ over malware infections


A charity has launched a legal bid to demand an investigation into claims that GCHQ deliberately infected millions of computers and smartphones with malware to collect intelligence information.

London-based charity Privacy International said documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that operations carried out by the spy organisation were in violation of articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Unrestrained, unregulated Government spying of this kind is the antithesis of the rule of law

The charity filed the case to demand "an end to the unlawful hacking being carried out by GCHQ which, in partnership with the NSA"

The complaint, filed at the UK's Investigatory Powers Tribunal, is the first UK legal challenge to the use of hacking tools by intelligence services. it said the malware infection is "so invasive that it is incompatible with democratic principles and human rights standards".

The 30-page complaint filed with the tribunal details GCHQ operations that listened in on private conversations, watched through webcams, read texts, access and downloaded browser histories.It alleged that GCHQ engaged in "active SIGINT" using manipulation of the user's property with malware to collect data.

Privacy International argues that the use of such capabilities is a clear violation of Article 8 (the right to privacy) and Article 10 (right to freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and must end immediately.

Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International, said: "Unrestrained, unregulated Government spying of this kind is the antithesis of the rule of law and Government must be held accountable for their actions."

He added: "The hacking programmes being undertaken by GCHQ are the modern equivalent of the government entering your house, rummaging through your filing cabinets, diaries, journals and correspondence, before planting bugs in every room you enter."

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.