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MPs call for hacker users to be exposed

Warwick Ashford

The Commons home affairs committee is calling for the publication of a list of companies that used private investigators suspected of using hacking as part of their information gathering processes.

The committee has revealed that law firms, insurance companies, food service firms, an oil company and a pharmaceutical company are on a list compiled by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

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That list of 102 companies has remained unpublished for several years, but now MPs want its contents published, according to the Guardian.

Soca has classified the list as secret because of concerns that publishing the companies’ names could jeopardise a current Scotland Yard investigation, the paper said.

The call comes as MPs investigate claims that the practice of employing investigators to use hacking to gain confidential information is not confined to newspapers such as The News of the World.

The MPs also revealed that a London Metropolitan Police investigation into computer hacking by media companies and other organisations is probing five organisations or individuals.

Seven journalists and thirteen others have been arrested at various times in connection with the computer hacking investigation.

Committee chair Keith Vaz said: "It is in the public interest for the information to be available at the appropriate time, not for this saga to drag on."

But Soca's director general, Trevor Pearce, said: "Soca is not alleging the individuals or companies named on the list have – or even may have – committed a criminal offence."

Earlier in the week, Vaz said that the UK is not winning the war on online criminal activity and is being too complacent about cyber crime.

The committee said in a report that funding and resources for tackling online crime – which includes identity theft, industrial espionage, credit-card fraud and child exploitation – has not been sufficiently allocated.


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