Top 10 Investigations and National Security Stories of 2023

Top 10 Investigations and National Security Stories of 2023

Secret Campaign Against Nature Journal

In a remarkable development this year, Computer Weekly and Byline Times uncovered an undercover operation conducted by right-wing Brexit advocates targeting the prestigious science journal, Nature. This covert group, well-connected within political, business, and intelligence circles, sought to place Nature and its editor under surveillance, pushing for investigations by intelligence agencies based on allegations of “extreme Sinophile views”.

Home Office Focuses on Surveillance

The Home Office has shown significant interest in surveillance this year, looking to amend the Investigatory Powers Act of 2016. These revisions are intended to simplify the process for police and intelligence agencies to access extensive databases on citizens and controversially to compel tech companies to disclose modifications to their platforms that may affect surveillance capabilities.

Online Safety Act and Encrypted Communication Services

Government pressure mounted on technology companies offering encrypted messaging and email services with the enactment of the Online Safety Act in October. This legislation grants Ofcom the authority to mandate tech companies to scrutinize encrypted services for illegal content. This requirement raises concerns about potentially compromising the security of technological platforms. While the law has been passed, the enforcement by Ofcom remains to be seen.

Dispute Over Authenticity of Electronic Evidence

Electronic evidence has been a continual theme over the past year. Computer Weekly reported on a dispute involving an NHS whistleblower and a health trust regarding the veracity of emails that highlighted patient safety issues. Additionally, an NHS employee deleted thousands of emails before a scheduled appearance at an employment tribunal. The admissibility of messages from the police’s hacking of the EncroChat encrypted phone network is still being debated in the courts. Inadmissibility could lead to overturned convictions for those judged solely on EncroChat messages.

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