16:33 GMT28 January 2020
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    According to whistleblower Edward Snowden, a UK draft law would authorize the government's hacking of communication devices across the world.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden says the United Kingdom is on the verge of passing a bill authorizing the hacking of communication devices across the world.

    "There is a draft law that authorizes what's called 'equipment interference' in the United Kingdom under their law. This is a euphemism for hacking," the whistleblower, who exposed global government surveillance programs nearly two years ago, said Wednesday.

    According to the UK government's website, consultations over the interception of communications and equipment interference draft code of practice – published last month – are due to close on Friday, March 20.

    The code's text reads that should individuals accidentally fall subject to equipment interference, it "should not be considered as collateral intrusion, but rather as intended intrusion."

    Giving closing remarks via video link at a conference organized by the international computer expo CeBIT in Hanover, Snowden said the UK hacking bill's reach stretches beyond counter-terrorism measures.

    "You are a target not because you are a terrorist, not because you are suspected of any criminal wrongdoing, but because you have accessed systems, you have accessed infrastructure, you have accessed the private records of people's private lives," Snowden said.

    The whistleblower is wanted in the United States on a number of charges, including espionage and theft of government property, facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

    Snowden, who revealed 1.7 million classified documents in early June 2013, currently resides in Russia after having been granted a three-year residency permit last August.

    Snowden's leaks revealed the NSA and other intelligence communities had gained access to billions of private messages from around the world, including the mobile communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of other world leaders.

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    Tags:
    hacking, National Security Agency (NSA), United Kingdom
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