Euro-Police Hacking Goes Out of Control
The European approach to computer search throws civil liberties out the window and invites police to install malware on suspects' computers with no outside controls.I usually find myself mostly on the side of the police in arguments with civil libertarians with respect to Internet monitoring of criminal activity. Opponents often go over the top, denying any legitimacy to police efforts. But now the European Union and the British Home Office are the ones losing all respect for the other side of the issue. The UK Home Office has signed up with an EU policy that encourages police to hack into personal computers. The policy does not require a court warrant for the intrusion. The Home Office says that its agreement with the EU is not legally binding. It also says that it does a small number of such operations under British law, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which allows surveillance to "prevent or detect serious crime."
I discussed police hacking in the United States in an earlier column. The law on this in the United States is not especially clear, but it appears to be far more protective of individual rights than in Europe. True, here in the United States we have a "warrantless wiretapping" program instituted by the Bush administration and voted for last year by then-Sen. Obama, but it applies to international telecommunications, not to the search of assets in private hands in the United States.