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Privacy International Sends Brexit Teams Anti-Surveillance Package

Rights group Privacy International (PI) has sent Brexit negotiators advice and technology designed to mitigate the risk of surveillance by intelligence agencies on the opposite side.

With the long-awaited EU divorce negotiations starting today, the privacy NGO claimed that there’s a heightened risk of sophisticated tools and tactics being used to enable one side or the other to gain the upper hand.

The PI package contains a short briefing warning the recipient against the surveillance powers available to the UK and some European agencies, as well as a Faraday Cage to protect their mobile devices.

Typically made of a fine metallic mesh, these cages can protect whatever’s inside them from electric fields.

This one was invented somewhat surprisingly by Agent Provocateur founder Joseph Corré, and is designed to block electromagnetic signals from reaching mobile phones placed inside.

However, the gesture is mainly symbolic given the range of powers at the disposal of the British and European intelligence agencies, Privacy International admitted.

PI warned the Brexit negotiators that government agencies can remotely activate mobile device mics, webcams and GPS systems; force service providers to decrypt comms; intercept internet traffic travelling on undersea cables; and access intelligence collected by their spy agencies.

Research officer, Edin Omanovic, urged both sides to support stronger laws to protect private data.

"The outcome of the Brexit negotiations will have an enormous influence on people’s lives for generations. But as we’ve seen in recent elections in the US and France, the vulnerability of our devices and communications to hacking and surveillance puts entire democratic processes at risk,” he explained.

“Instead of protecting us from this threat however, countries in the EU and the UK have recently taken draconian steps to undermine our security by empowering themselves with intrusive surveillance powers and condemning things like encryption which plays a fundamental role in security in today’s digital age. The rush for greater surveillance powers is a race to the bottom which ultimately leaves everyone less secure.”

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