The group filed a legal complaint accusing the British intelligence agency of using invasive surveillance techniques to hack citizenâ€™s personal devices, such as implanting malware, without legal grounds.
â€œIf the interception of communications is the modern equivalent of wire-tapping, then the activity at issue in this complaint is the modern equivalent of entering someoneâ€™s house, searching through his filing cabinets, diaries and correspondence, and planting devices to permit constant surveillance in future, and, if mobile devices are involved, obtaining historical information including every location he had visited in the past year,â€ the privacy campaigners said.
The group lists the programs that allegedly accessed peopleâ€™s private data without their consent, such as Nosey Smurf, allowing hackers to take over a target’s microphone, Tracker Smurf, used to track a target’s location, and Gumfish, used to take over a target’s webcam.
Privacy International says that data-gathering, unless justified by national security objectives, violates articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protect peopleâ€™s rights to privacy and freedom of expression.
The group says the hacking techniques should be outlawed and the data collected, permanently deleted.
Privacy International is a UK charity working on the right to privacy at an international level.