13:06 GMT17 February 2020
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    Eric King, deputy director of the Privacy International charity says that the decision of the UK government to quietly amend anti-hacking laws in order to protect the GCHQ intelligence agency from prosecution is shameful and undemocratic.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik), Anastasia Levchenko — The decision of the UK government to quietly amend anti-hacking laws in order to protect the GCHQ intelligence agency from prosecution is shameful and undemocratic, Eric King, deputy director of the Privacy International charity, told Sputnik on Monday.

    Beginning in May 2014, the UK-registered charity and a group of international internet services' providers filed complaints with a UK body investigating complaints about state surveillance alleging that the GCHQ used malicious software to break into their networks. Last week, the charity said that the British government proposed changes to exempt intelligence services and law enforcement from the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) provisions that prohibit infiltrating into computers and mobile devices of individuals and businesses.

    “It’s a shame that they have chosen to re-legislate the Computer Misuse Act without notifying us and many of the stakeholders, without having the public debate that we should have had,” King said.

    He added that this was not how the government should be passing the legislation in the democratic society.

    “We are very disappointed that this is the way the government has chosen to deal with the claims that they may be breaking the law by hacking domestically,” the charity’s deputy director stressed.

    King called on human rights groups to raise public awareness about government agencies breaching citizens’ privacy, especially now, with a new legislative calendar in the country.

    Other complaints filed by the charity and the group of providers concern the ability of the GCHQ and the US National Security Agency to conduct mass surveillance programs by infecting computers and mobile devices worldwide with malicious software.

    The allegations are based on the revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

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    Tags:
    cybersecurity, British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), United Kingdom
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