Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown accused the British newspapers The Sun and The Sunday Times of using Trojans to hack into his personal computer and steal banking information and confidential medical records of his infant son.
Brown's case highlights what is coming to be seen as deplorable behavior by reporters and eidtors working for News International, including The Sun, The Sunday Times and the now-defunct News of the World.
News International is the British newspaper division of media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which also owns the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News Channel and 20th Century Fox. A News International spokeswoman called Brown's accusations "absolute nonsense."
In 2006, The Sun's editor, Rebekah Brooks, called Brown after discovering — through allegedly hacking into his computer with a malicious email attachment — that Brown's son, James Fraser Brown, suffered from cystic fibrosis.
The news was known only to Brown's doctors; that is, until Brooks ran a story about it. (The Sun denies that it accessed Brown's son's medical records, the Toronto Star reported.)
In a House of Commons debate yesterday (July 13), Brown slammed the tabloid reporters for their "systematic use of base and unlawful methods — new crimes with new names: blagging, hacking, Trojans to break into computers and not just phones," the security firm Sophos reported.
Added Brown, "It was not the misconduct of a few rogues or a few freelancers but, I have to say, lawbreaking often on an industrial scale, at its worst dependent on links with the British criminal underworld."
Brown's allegations add yet more fuel to the fire engulfing Murdoch's tabloid empire: last week, the 168-year-old News of the World shut down after it came to light that reporters hacked into the mobile phone voicemail boxes of private citizens.
One such victim was Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl who had been abducted and later found murdered. Her family was led to believe she might still be alive after the News of the World reporters (then under Brooks' editorial leadership) hacked into her voicemail and deleted messages.
The New York Times reported that Brooks, along with Murdoch and his son James will testify about the hacking incidents before a parliamentary panel, the Commons Culture Select Committee, next Tuesday (July 19).