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Hacker exposes cops’ spy deal with cybersecurity firm

This article is over 8 years, 11 months old
Issue 2462
A still from a Hacking Team promotional video
A still from a Hacking Team promotional video

Cops tried to buy fancy surveillance technology from cybersecurity firm Hacking Team, leaked emails show.

The Metropolitan Police Service and the National Crime Agency (NCA) both tried, and apparently failed, to cut deals.

This was shown in emails released as part of a huge cache of sensitive documents leaked from the offensive security firm by a hacker.

Staffordshire Police also enquired about the purchase of intrusive surveillance products.

In June last year, the force asked about the capabilities and cost of a piece of technology that appeared to allow police to hack into wifi and retrieve user data from connected devices.

Britain’s police forces have only recently formed regional surveillance units with the power to carry out covert and intrusive investigations. These were previously overseen by the now-dissolved Serious Organised Crime Agency.

A leaked email from 2011 suggests that dealings with Hacking Team were affected by concerns about the legality of the company’s technology. The Met was apparently worried their equipment was “just so good that it crosses a number of issues re Lawful Inception [sic] in the UK.”

Those concerns seem to have been relieved by September 2013, when the Metropolitan Police told Hacking Team it was “ready to progress the trial” of a spying tool. A confidential “Statement of Requirements” listed everything they wanted the tool to do: it would be secretly introduced to a phone or computer operating system, and would then “receive, record and playback the ‘Product’ retrieved from the third party”.

The tool’s exact capabilities are unclear, but the deal was worth £385,000. 

Hacking Team seemed to impress the NCA. A demonstration in January this year was “extremely well received and proved to be a real eye opener for what can be achieved”.

A follow up email in April shows the NCA attempting to build a business case for keystroke-logging software. 

Restaurant misteak during Tube strike

The £150-a-steak M restaurants in the City of London and Twickenham offered a “Smoked duck or pig’s head starter with our compliments” at lunchtime on Thursday of last week.

“At M we would like to say DUCK YOU to the PIG-HEADED UNIONS as they irresponsibly bring London to a standstill,” it declared.

“Come and relax on our ‘Wimbledon Terrace’ safe in the knowledge you beat the unions and their greed.”

By Thursday evening, large tables were reserved in the names of Rosa Luxemburg, Antonio Gramsci and one Mr T. Driver.

Charles Marx added a request to his online booking to “personally congratulate the owner or manager” on taking an anti-union stance. Strangely all the tables were cancelled at the last minute.

Break to the Liberal Democrats gently 

George Osborne blocked the Lib Dems on Twitter, which was bit harsh. It also meant he will have missed the LibDemFuture article last week by Gareth Epps. 

Epps is a former parliamentary candidate who sits on his party’s federal policy committee. He wrote, “Demonstrating the Scottish Party’s independence from London as well as high-profile roles for senior figures—Charles Kennedy, perhaps—would be a confident and positive way to face the future.”

Someone should break it to them gently.

Meanwhile Lib Dem Voice gets to grips with the big issues facing their party,

“The Social Liberal Forum Conference ended yesterday with a 90 minute hustings between Tim Farron and Norman Lamb. 

“Both men turned up dressed in very similar clothes.” 

Checked shirts, in case you were wondering.

A student who stopped to give money to a homeless person was handcuffed by a police officer.

George Wilson, from Wallasey, received a £5,000 pay out after police accepted he had been detained unlawfully.

When Wilson denied he was behaving in a drunk and disorderly manner, the officer replied, “That’s not how I’ll write it up pal.”

Three TorY MPs in a row asked Geroge Osborne, “What recent steps [the chancellor] has taken to rebalance the economy and create a northern powerhouse?”

Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton didn’t hear the answer as he was on the Commons terrace eating lunch.

Daily Express in made up story shock

The Daily Express newspaper appears to have deleted a story suggesting that 1.5 million British Muslims support terror group Isis. 

It was headlined, “Half of British Muslims ‘support ISIS’ as fears grow over influence of terror group”.

The article went on, “HALF of Britain’s three million Muslims could support the Islamic State terror group, a shocking new survey has revealed.”

Except that the survey in question did not say anything of the sort. 

In fact it didn’t ask the religion of those surveyed at all.

Nazis forget to protest murder case 

Over the last three years, the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL) have protested in Blackpool over missing teenagers Paige Chivers and Charlene Downes.

They put the disappearances down to “Muslim grooming gangs” in the area.

BNP/EDL member Robert Ewing was last week found guilty of the murder of Paige.

The EDL and BNP did not demonstrate outside the court.

Toff of the week

Heythrop Hunt 

  • Formed in 1835, to this day the Heythrop Hunt draws a crowd in Chipping Norton. 
  • The area registered to the firm covers a significant part of Oxfordshire and  Gloucestershire.
  • As it points out, “Hunting people have an unjustifiable reputation for arrogance and rudeness.
  • David Cameron hunts with them. He was set to repeal the ban on fox hunting this week but didn’t.

The things they say …

‘I’m a big fan of TOWIE…By that I mean The Only Way Is Exports’

Labour leadership candidate Liz Kendall

‘The party would urge the government to make exemptions for people with disabilities and carers in setting the welfare cap and urge the Conservatives not to go ahead with cuts’

A Labour source reveals the party’s strategy. They plan to earnestly ask the Tories not do anything too nasty

‘Marxist throwback’

The Sun doesn’t back Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour Party leadership

‘If Karen Danczuk and Sally Bercow are such independent women, why do they feed off their husbands’ names?’

As opposed to their parents presumbly? Dominic Lawson Daily Mail columinist and son of former Tory chancellor Nigel Lawson 

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