TECH
21/10/2015 08:52 BST | Updated 21/10/2015 08:59 BST

New 'Snoopers Charter' Law Could Give Spies "Dizzying" Powers To Hack Public's Phones And Computers

Britain's spies could get a "dizzying" array of powers to hack our phones and computers as a new law is set to be introduced in the coming weeks.

The 'Investigatory Powers Bill,' a revised version of the 'Snoopers Charter,' could see MI5, MI6 and GCHQ have a legally sound basis for hacking mobiles and computers devices, The Times reports.

Under the new legislation, spies could take over phones remotely allowing them access to everything stored in the device including text messages, photos and other data.

hacking

The increased power to hack phones was suggested by the Government as a way to get around the use of encryption which scrambles data and makes it hard for intelligence agencies to intercept and read.

Hacking however, will allow spies to gain access to phone cameras and mics as well as install their own programming that would allow them to listen in on conversations.

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Peter Sommer, a digital evidence expert, told the paper: “Increasingly, [intelligence agents] can’t read communications sent over the internet because of encryption, so their ability to get information from interception is rapidly diminishing.

" The best way around this is to get inside someone’s computer. This is an increasingly important avenue for them.”

The proposed legislation originates from the Intelligence Services Act 1994, which does not explicitly deal with hacking or computers.

However, the new law will seek to clarify the powers spies have to "interfere with property," The Times reports.

These revelations come a month after the MI5 chief, Andrew Parker, spoke against techniques used by popular messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Facebook, to protect the privacy of users.

text message

The data communicated via these apps are protected by end-to-end encryption, which keeps the information unreadable.

However Parker said: “MI5 and others need to be able to navigate the internet to find terrorist communication, we need to be able to use data sets to be able to join the dots to be able to find and stop the terrorists who mean us harm before they are able to bring plots to fruition."

In June, QC David Anderson, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, called for a debate around the legal basis of hacking.

In the 'Report of The Investigatory Powers Review,' he stated that hacking “presents a dizzying array of possibilities to the security and intelligence agencies”.