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Stop GCHQ’s smartphone hacking, demands UK charity

Privacy International accuses the British intelligence agency of violating human rights standards.

By CBR Staff Writer

The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) needs to be stopped from infecting mobile devices with "malicious" spying malware without the user’s consent, according to privacy campaigners.

Privacy International, a civil rights group, filed a legal complaint with Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), the UK’s secret court, asking it to put an end to hacking practices of the British intelligence agency.

The charity said the documents leaked by Edward Snowden show that the GCHQ partnered with the NSA to keep a close watch on the general public by hacking into their electronic devices.

The documents leaked by Snowden last year reveal that the intelligence agency has access to cables carrying phone and internet communications across the world.

The complaint comes just a few days after two Green party MPs lodged a complaint with the tribunal against the agency for spying on them.

Private International contends that the two intelligence agencies did not have legal authority to hack into private systems and what they are doing is "incompatible with democratic principles and human rights standards".

The organisation alleges that the surveillance techniques of GCHQ are so advanced that they can use the hacked mobile to listen to the conversations taking place around it and webcam to take pictures as well as record the keystrokes, know the passwords and access any content from the phone.

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Privacy International deputy director Eric King said: "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. Intelligence agencies can do all this without you even knowing about it, and can invade the privacy of anyone around the world with a few clicks."

Earlier this month, Green MPs Caroline Lucas and Lady Jones complained that the GCHQ violated the Wilson Doctrine which prohibits intelligence agencies from snooping on MPs.

The two MPs suspected that GCHQ is intercepting the communication of the members of the Parliament.

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