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UK Police To Step Up Hacking of Home PCs 595

toomanyairmiles writes "The Times of London reports that the United Kingdom's Home Office has quietly adopted a new plan to allow police across Britain to routinely hack into people's personal computers without a warrant. The move, which follows a decision by the European Union's council of ministers in Brussels, has angered civil liberties groups and opposition MPs. They described it as a sinister extension of the surveillance state that drives 'a coach and horses' through privacy laws."
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UK Police To Step Up Hacking of Home PCs

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  • The real question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by moniker127 ( 1290002 ) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @09:23PM (#26324797)
    When your government is hacking you, is it illegal to lock them out?
  • Re:Is (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pete6677 ( 681676 ) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @09:46PM (#26324985)

    The U.K. government might as well just announce that their subjects no longer have any rights at all. They have effectively all been removed in practice. To put things in perspective, this country is on the verge of banning kitchen knives to try to reduce violent crime (now that private possession of firearms has been completely outlawed). The saddest part of all is that the subjects of the U.K. support this nonsense by a large margin.

  • Re:Linux anyone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dltaylor ( 7510 ) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @09:50PM (#26325011)

    OpenBSD, at least on your firewall and until they make it illegal to run anything but M$-Windows.

    The latter is NOT a joke, but a prediction, given how "in bed" the UK government is with Microsoft.

  • Re:How?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Sunday January 04, 2009 @09:51PM (#26325023) Homepage Journal

    meh, court oversight doesn't do anything anyway. The courts are happy to rubber stamp any search warrant where there is reasonable expectation that evidence might be found. And if the police find nothing? Oh, there's no oversight on that. Around 1998 I had police knock on my door and seize my computers because they had obtained a warrant on the grounds that I had spoken online with someone who had hacked into a national ISP via a corporate phone conference line, running up their bills. The police had reason to believe that they might find evidence of his crime on my computers. As such, I was required to suffer the inconvenience of having my hardware forfeit for months while they investigated. In the end they found nothing and, after much harassing on my part, eventually returned the hardware. No apology, no oversight.

  • Re:How?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Allicorn ( 175921 ) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @10:19PM (#26325241) Homepage

    [tinfoil-hat]The annual free tax utility software CDs from the Revenue[/tinfoil-hat]

  • Re:How?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cusco ( 717999 ) <brian.bixby@gma i l . c om> on Sunday January 04, 2009 @10:34PM (#26325347)
    As one of the participants at DefCon said a couple of years ago when discussing the FBI's 'Magic Lantern' software, "If they want to arrest you they don't even need any evidence any more. They can just dump some kiddie porn in your browser cache and kick in the door. Good luck proving it wasn't you that put it there."
  • EU joke (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 04, 2009 @10:35PM (#26325355)

    This is not the UK it is the joke EU police state.
    If we don't get involved in our system it will happen here.
    Don't believe the lies the slaves in the UK are not in favor of it.

  • Re:How?? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 04, 2009 @10:39PM (#26325391)

    ... i dont know if i should laugh at that or not anymore. begs the question hough. If the police have no moral quams about doing It why should I.

  • Re:Is (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 04, 2009 @11:07PM (#26325597)
    Not since 1949 []
  • Re:How?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cjb658 ( 1235986 ) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @11:39PM (#26325779) Journal

    Man in the middle?

    Just wait for the user to download some new program or updates and inject a trojan. When he runs the program, BAM!

  • Re:Is (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily&gmail,com> on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:00AM (#26325925)

    The saddest part of all is that the subjects of the U.K. support this nonsense by a large margin.

    Not quite. They're just preoccupied with the latest news on celebrities.

    I've been living here for half a year now and I haven't seen a single word about this stuff in newspapers yet.

    When will it be a crime to use secure operating systems?

  • Re:Is (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:30AM (#26326115) Homepage

    You sir, deserve neither liberty NOR safety [].

    Swimming pool deaths outnumber firearm death in children. Plenty of sources []. all means, lets close them all down.

    Shit, you weren't using your liberty anyways...

    Would it be physically impossible to be stabbed with a non-pointy kitchen knife? Does that sound somehow better?

  • Re:Is (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:27AM (#26326469) Homepage

    Ok...I am being a little harsh. However, the point that Benjamin Franklin was making is that those who would trade their liberty for safety (commonly paraphrased as security) deserve neither.

    If you ban everything that causes death, all you have done is surrender liberty. The mere act of surrendering your liberty simply sets a precedent with which more liberties can be taken.

    England never was a nation of the Enlightenment, that's one of the reasons they fought against the French and the of the reasons they bonded with the Prussians. England never did buy into the democratic ideal that government should be a limited social contract formulated amongst free men, in a state of nature, to secure life, liberty, and property; That government derives its authority from the consent of the goverened.

    If you, as a free person wishes to ban pointy knives from your sovereign property then you are free to do so...the life you save may be your own. But to sign everyone else up, to surrender one more freedom on the slippery-slope toward being a subject...well fuck it. Yeah, you deserve neither liberty nor the safety you hope to gain.

  • Re:Is (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dragonturtle69 ( 1002892 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:39AM (#26326543)

    Just some thoughts:

    Restricting knives for purchase is just silly. Sort of like a policy found in some restaurants against pocket knives for employees (yep, under 3" blades) while allowing 12"+ knives for general usage in the shop. I'm sure that there are already laws preventing carrying concealed blades over a certain length, so this add nothing new. A file will take care of the dull end too. To bring the bring the "terrorist" flavor to the discussion, those airplanes that went crashing on 2001-09-11 were taken with the predominant weapon being a box cutter. They proved that a big blade is not necessary.

    Wasn't there something in the UK press about 5 years back, changing steins to plastic so that fewer people would be slashed with broken glass in bar fights? And don't forget blunt heavy objects, and several other ways of killing.

    A guitar string as a garrote? Maybe they should all be really flimsy plastic; more than 5lbs of load and they break.

    Being stabbed or bludgeoned to death doesn't much matter to the dead on the exact how it happened.

    The politicians seek to treat the symptom, and get political revenue from the treatment, without touching the cause. What would a politician do in a land with 0 crime, 0 poverty (true poverty, as in no place to live, no food, and no clothes) and 0 enemies?

    If you want to prevent homicides, you prevent WHY they happen, not WHAT they happen with. If you want to manage crime, and your population, you work on the WHAT.

  • Re:The Fix (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thegrassyknowl ( 762218 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:45AM (#26326583)

    My keyboard speaks SSL and my computer only trusts its cert. Any keylogger is useless against my keyboard because the data is encrypted in the middle and I would be warned if anyone was intercepting the data.

    Well, It doesn't really but it's not such a bad idea given the current arms race between gumbiments with their power lust and the otherwise innocent people who they want to spy on.

  • Re:Please Tell Me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:53AM (#26326639)

    "Why the hell do the British trust their gov't so much?"

    Many don't. But what do you suggest they do about it? The current government was elected by 22% of voters, so even with the vast majority not voting for them they got enough seats in Parliament to push through any authoritarian measures they choose.

    The smart people are getting the hell out of the UK before the doors are closed.

  • Re:Is (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Keen Anthony ( 762006 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @02:31AM (#26326819)

    I'm a gun ownership supporter, and I agree with you philosophically, but I have to say this.

    You don't seriously think a pack of armed citizens could actually stop the government from tyrannically taking away its rights do you? We've seen how successful "militia" groups have been when put face to face with ATF. If we're to believe the 9/11 stories, at least one plane load of Americans citizens didn't even have the guts to unite and take down hijackers armed with sporks and box cutters.

    And look at our rights being taken away now... many citizens protested, but most just bitched and moaned and carried on with their lives with absolutely no willingness to go through the hell that protestors do. And if you haven't noticed, this generation by and large defines patriotism as being loyal to the government and going along with whatever it commands. You can't even say you're ashamed of your president without the public lashing out against you and branding you a traitor.

    In the last two election cycles, we watched citizens, pundits, and politicians each call the "other guy" a dangerous lunatic with dangerous connections whose dangerously wrong ideas will bring about the end of life on our continent and perhaps the world. And in the next breath, these same people screaming that the end was nigh, made low-brow jokes about those candidates. If each election determines the fate of humanity, why do we still laugh and sing, and act as if it's business as usual?

    I think the reality is that if things should ever come to Nazi Germany here in the US, the vast majority of Americans will shit their pants and hope that by buying a new iPod or pledging allegiance to a favorite cable news company, they will be left alone.

    And when the tanks and stormtroopers move into suburbia, of those Americans who do own guns, more than half of them will shoot their loved ones in the faces, blow out their TVs, accidentally kill a neighbor, or take out a street lamp. Maybe one or two partisans will actually hit the broadside of a large armored vehicle or defend a street for a few hours. But maybe, just maybe, the ordinary citizens that comprise our military will refuse to take those tanks into suburbia too.

    Sorry, my basic rifle marksmanship training came courtesy of the Army; I don't think I'd trust any armed civilian militia to protect me. The armed citizenry of the 18th century had something the armed citizenry of the 21st lacks: a sense of duty to the higher cause of Liberty and a real, qualified distrust of our leaders rather than manufactured political angst.

  • by phayes ( 202222 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @05:03AM (#26327495) Homepage
    When I have english friends who come to France to receive treatment for dental emergencies in under 6 months (& paid for it themselves), I wonder about the "proper" healthcare available over there. Paying enormous amounts of money for something does not mean that the services rendered are worth what you are paying...
  • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @05:40AM (#26327637)

    It's less great when they get in while you're using it via network or physical means - you know grabbing your ass and shoving you away from the keyboard.

    My computer is set up with a simple key combination to dismount my encrypted drives and wipe the memory the key was stored in. Somebody would have to be pretty sneaky to get me away from the keyboard while those drives were mounted without me hitting it.

  • Re:Is (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @05:54AM (#26327715)

    <rant type="major">

    I've lived in 3 countries by now and the UK is the one country where I feel the most that I'm surrounded by the sheeple.

    Once again the local wolves are increasing their powers to fleece the sheeple - I'm not surprised.

    The pound is weak, it's highly likely that Britain is going to be the European country worst affected by the recession (in the last couple of years all the sheeple where busy getting themselves further and further into debt to buy all the useless consumer goods they saw on the tele - all that debt will need to be unwound now) and the current "throwing money into the fire to keep us warm" policies will mean higher taxes in the future:

    There is a lot less money to be made by expert foreign workers in UK for now and for the coming 2 to 5 years.

    I bet most people will forget that the UK is deeper in the shit-pit than almost everybody else due to the current government's past policies and will just eat up the spin being put out by the Prime Minister (which never misses an opportunity to say that the recession came from outside the UK) and re-elect Labour 'cause "they save us from a deeper recession".

    I'm working on my plan to move to a better country as we speak.


  • Re:Is (Score:2, Interesting)

    by StuckInSyrup ( 745480 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @06:41AM (#26327985)
    Of course, lots of people are killed every day by cars. Why not ban them as well?
    A knife is a tool. Used daily, by millions of people, for perfectly peaceful reasons. Like a car, a hammer, a screwdriver or a paperweight. It can be used to kill someone on purpose or kill someone accidentally. Ban useful tools and the result is a kindergarten, not a society. The problem is not with the tools.

    I guess I have to edit my sig...

e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer