The UK’s most controversial surveillance software programme is a “big, big, big step towards surveillance in the UK”, according to Amnesty International.
The surveillance system called ‘SpyEye’ was introduced in 2013 by the UK government to combat cyber crime and the use of encryption technology by criminals.
It can track people for up to two weeks, according to the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Its main feature, called ‘Cointelpro’, is to track the movements of suspected criminals through a “digital database” where criminals’ personal information is kept.
It can also collect information about who has visited their computers, and what they have done, so it can target their financial activities.
It is used to monitor online conversations, but it has also been used to spy on people who have done nothing wrong, Amnesty said in a statement.
The UK’s security services are allowed to share the information with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies without permission.
Amnesty said it was concerned that the UK was being used as a model for other countries to implement similar programmes.
“The UK government should be ashamed of itself for its reckless and illegal use of spyware,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s executive director for security.
“We need to stop giving the UK surveillance software a free pass, and ensure the UK has no place at the table when other countries start implementing similar systems,” he said.
“If the UK is using this technology, it should be banned and replaced with other tools to protect our rights.”
The UK has also said that it has been a victim of “sophisticated attacks” by other countries using spyware on computers.