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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

 
"The government called us paranoid"

by digby

So it looks as though Murdoch may not be able to close his big media deal after all. And then there's this on the phone hacking, which isn't surprising in the least:

But the scandal may encompass other forms of technology, too. On 8 July, The Guardian newspaper said the police investigation has been hampered by one News International executive deleting thousands of potentially incriminating emails from an internal archive.

It may not help: a corporate IT specialist contacted by New Scientist says it is highly probable that NI has off-site backup storage of its data for disaster recovery reasons.

On 11 July, yet another type of technocrime emerged. The New York Times said News of the World staff had bribed police to track people's cellphone locations. This must be authorised by a senior police officer under English law, but the NYT says corrupt officers did the job – dubbed "pinging" – on request for around £300.

This is possible because any cellphone network can be used to track people (or rather, their phones) simply by triangulating signal strength from the three masts nearest their phone.

"If the police want to hear the content of a phone call, they must get permission from the Home Secretary," says Ian Brown, a security and privacy researcher with the Oxford Internet Institute in the UK. "But if they only want your location, a senior police officer can authorise it."

Brown and like-minded colleagues warned British lawmakers about this self-authorisation and other anomalies during the passage of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) in 2000. Gordon Brown, chancellor of the exchequer at the time, today revealed that his child's medical records had been appropriated by another News International title, The Sun.

"We predicted facilities like RIPA's self-authorisation would be abused, but the government called us paranoid, asking us what we had to hide. We said it's not so much government we're worried about as hackers and corrupt insiders – and we have been proven right," says Ian Brown.

It doesn't end there: two formerly anonymous sex bloggers turned authors, Brooke Magnanti and Zoe Margolis, claim they may have been the victims of spyware attached to emails from News International's Sunday Times. Both believe trojans downloaded when they opened the emails may have played a part in the uncovering of their identities.


It's a criminal enterprise, that's all there is to it.

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