Equipment interference

What is equipment interference?

Equipment interference, also known as computer network exploitation, allows MI5 to gather communications or other information by interfering with equipment such as computers, phones and other electronic devices. It can range from remotely accessing computers and other electronic equipment to covertly downloading the contents of a mobile phone or storage media during a search.

What is it used for? 

MI5 sometimes needs communications or information held on computers or other equipment in order to gain valuable intelligence in national security investigations. It can sometimes be the only method by which we can acquire the data but is only ever used where it is necessary and proportionate. 

What is the legal framework governing equipment interference? 

MI5’s use of equipment interference is only allowed under a warrant signed by a Secretary of State and approved by an independent judge. These warrants are issued under the Investigatory Powers Act and our conduct is in accordance with the equipment interference code of practice. The retention and disclosure of material obtained under a warrant is subject to safeguards set out in the Investigatory Powers Act while the acquisition and use of this type of data is overseen by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office.