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12 July 2011

Ping! The next stage of the phone-hacking scandal is ready

Corrupt police officers let NoW journalists track mobile phones using technology normally r

By Duncan Robinson

There is one thing the media loves reporting on it: itself. Broadsheets and tabloids alike have leapt upon the demise of the News of the World with delight. They have reported the movements of an 80-year-old man in fine detail, and analysed to death the likelihood of a media company taking over another media company that it already has a controlling stake in. In their desire to report on the media ramifications of the scandal, however, the media have not given due prominence to what will be the larger and more long-running scandal: corruption within Britain’s police forces.

Thankfully they have not made this mistake across the pond. The New York Times today reports that News of the World journalists paid police $500 to track someone’s mobile phone.

Under British law, the technology involved is restricted to law enforcement and security officials, requires case-by-case authorization, and is used mainly for high-profile criminal cases and terrorism investigations. . .

In other words, British police officers were more than happy to use technology that was aimed at capturing terrorists in order to earn a few hundred quid from a tabloid hack. The New York Times continues:

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The former Scotland Yard official who discussed the matter said that any officer who agreed to use the technique to assist a newspaper would be crossing a red line.

“That would be a massive breach,” he said.

The police have an increasing number of questions to answer in this sorry affair.