Feeds

Privacy bods win court battle: UK HMRC must 'reconsider' silence over FinSpy spyware probe

Is taxman looking into snoop-soft sales? Maybe we'll find out

Security for virtualized datacentres

A campaign group has successfully applied for a judicial review after Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs' refused to disclose details of any investigation into a firm accused of selling spyware to oppressive regimes.

The High Court in London has now ruled (PDF) that HMRC has to rethink its decision and address Privacy International's request for information.

Privacy International started its battle two years ago after the taxman refused to allow it to see records relating to Gamma International, which touts surveillance-ware FinFisher, also known as FinSpy.

The campaign body first wrote to HMRC in 2012, enclosing a dossier of allegations that Finfisher was used to snoop on innocent activists in Bahrain, Ethiopia, Egypt and Turkmenistan. The privacy campaigners also alleged that Gamma was exporting the controlled spyware without the correct licence.

The group demanded to see details of any investigation into Gamma – which has an office in Andover, England – as well as minutes of any meeting between its Brit-based wing and the UK government.

However, HMRC argued it had no power to provide information about any investigations, or even about the existence of any such investigations, and that it was "exempt from disclosure because it was provided to the Department in confidence and that release would constitute a breach of confidence actionable in court."

Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International, said: "Today’s ruling is an important victory.”

Documents released by WikiLeaks (PDF) allege the software can monitor Skype communications, snoop on targets using a computer's webcam and silently siphon files from a hard drive to spymasters. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.