The payments secured secrecy over out-of-court settlements in three cases that threatened to expose evidence of Murdoch journalists using private investigators who illegally hacked into the mobile phone messages of numerous public figures to gain unlawful access to confidential personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills. Cabinet ministers, MPs, actors and sports stars were all targets of the private investigators… officers found evidence of News Group staff using private investigators who hacked into "thousands" of mobile phones.
There are two particularly troubling aspects to this story. The Metropolitan Police, Crown Prosecution Service and Information Commissioner's Office all had prima facie evidence of these crimes, but have declined to take action against News Group. And, mobile phone companies continue to allow access to messages using voicemail PINs set to defaults that are apparently known throughout the media.
Perhaps in future:
- Law enforcement agencies will take action against those discovered to be breaking the law, whether or not they work for powerful newspaper groups?
- Mobile phone companies will not leave their customers' communications wide open to abuse?
- Government agencies and companies will think a little more carefully before building up large collections of sensitive personal data that will inevitably be sold to the highest bidder?