Privacy Group Sues British Spy Agency over Use of Malware

Britain's spy agency, GCHQ, is being targeted by Privacy International for what the grou considers to be illegal spy techniques. The privacy group filed a lawsuit Tuesday against GCHQ after documents reportedly from former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed the extent to which both GCHQ and the NSA spy on civilians.

With leaked documents in hand, Privacy International alleges that the British spy agency has violated and continues to violate articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 8 deals with privacy and since the GCHQ may have used malware to intentionally infect devices, privacy laws would have been broken.

First Lawsuit

Just as widespread surveillance in the U.S. has met with strong criticism, British organizations say the tapping of wireless devices or computers should not be allowed. This argument has been met with legal opposition, but given the existence of wiretap laws and warrant requirements, Privacy International may have a legitimate claim against the GCHQ on behalf of British citizens.

The lawsuit, filed with the UK's Investigatory Powers Tribunal, is the first against GCHQ to be filed since January, when a series of Snowden documents showed how the NSA and GCHQ used mobile apps to spy on individuals. With the suit, Privacy International hopes to bring "an end to the unlawful hacking being carried out by GCHQ."

GCHQ said it would not comment on the lawsuit.

According to the privacy group, this is the first case in the UK's history that directly challenges the use of malware and other hacking tools by intelligence services. With the exception of a failed class-action lawsuit brought in the U.S. by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, there have not been lawsuits against the NSA for its use of similar tools.

Malware

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