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Beware of Cyber-Spies in Russia, Rights Group Warns England Boss

Privacy International (PI) has sent England football manager Gareth Southgate an anti-surveillance kit to help mitigate the risk of rival teams spying on the Three Lions boss at the World Cup.

The rights group sent a Faraday cage specially designed by Agent Provocateur founder Joseph Corré, which can be used to block electromagnetic signals from reaching his devices.

It’s also sent a headline briefing warning the England boss that rival managers and Russia's fearsome security forces could hack his devices; activate the webcam and mic to eavesdrop on team talks and training; intercept phone calls; or even activate GPS tech to track Southgate’s movements, possibly with an eye on blackmail.  

“If England are to stand any chance of progressing in the World Cup, Southgate will need to take all the precautions he can, including against spying,” argued PI state surveillance lead, Edin Omanovic.

“It's worth remembering that when governments hack, it's to gain a competitive edge against rival governments. Surely rival managers will all be wanting to gain a competitive advantage over each other in the biggest cup in the world.”

Privacy International is using the publicity stunt to highlight the UK Prime Minister’s flawed approach to encryption. Theresa May has repeatedly warned there should be no “safe spaces” on the internet for terrorists to hide and her new Investigatory Powers Act could even theoretically force providers to build encryption backdoors.

However, that same security is vital to protecting the privacy and security of law-abiding citizens and businesses, including the England manager and team.

The rights group has previous warned any visitors to Russia that their communications could be monitored by the authorities via SORM: the government’s “nationwide system of automated and remote legal interception infrastructure.”

Controversially awarded to Russia amid rumors of corruption and bribery, the FIFA World Cup will kick off next Thursday.

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