Details of UK voters accessed by China

Ministers are expected to disclose that millions of voters’ personal information may have been compromised in a cyber-attack believed to be orchestrated by China against Britain’s democratic processes. Among the targeted individuals, Members of Parliament (MPs), and peers, approximately 43 people are thought to have been affected. The attack included breaching the Electoral Commission, where Beijing reportedly accessed the personal data of around 40 million voters.

Details of these cyber-attacks are set to be presented by Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden to Parliament on Monday, attributing the attacks to Beijing’s state-backed interference efforts. In response to mounting pressure, the UK government is considering imposing sanctions on individuals suspected to be involved in these cyber activities.

Reports indicate that a select group of politicians, particularly those with strong stances on China, have been briefed by Parliament’s security director, Alison Giles, regarding these cyber threats. Notably, members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), including figures like Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Tim Loughton, Lord Alton, and Stewart McDonald, are among those who received the briefing.

The IPAC, focused on addressing issues related to China’s growing influence, is gearing up to publicly address the matter, with some affected individuals preparing to make a joint statement on Monday. However, the government has declined to comment on the issue.

Luke de Pulford, IPAC’s executive director, highlighted the broader pattern of Chinese-sponsored cyber-attacks targeting foreign politicians who oppose Beijing’s policies. This revelation comes amid global concerns, as evidenced by the recent arrest of a US army intelligence analyst for allegedly conspiring to provide sensitive defense information to China.

Meanwhile, as part of ongoing efforts to bolster national security, reforms to UK surveillance laws are progressing through Parliament. The investigatory powers (amendment) bill, scheduled for debate in the Commons on Monday, aims to update the country’s investigatory powers framework to better address evolving threats. Among its provisions are measures to facilitate the examination and retention of bulk datasets by security agencies, with the aim of ensuring the effectiveness of surveillance capabilities in the face of modern challenges.

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