The UK has been criticized for being too slow to take action against China for their cyber-attacks targeting MPs and voters.

Estimated read time 3 min read

The leader of a global coalition of lawmakers dedicated to addressing cyber-threats has criticized the UK government for being lax in their response to attacks perpetrated by China. This comes as Britain is anticipated to impose new sanctions on Beijing.

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden is set to reveal the penalties in Parliament on Monday, following accusations from the UK of cyber-attacks on members of Parliament and peers. One attack allegedly involved Beijing obtaining the personal information of approximately 40 million voters from the Electoral Commission.

Three members of parliament and one member of the House of Lords, who have experienced reported attempts of unauthorized access, will each hold a media briefing following a briefing session with the director of security for the British parliament.

Four members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (Ipac), including Conservative MPs Iain Duncan Smith and Tim Loughton, SNP’s Stewart McDonald, and crossbench peer David Alton, belong to the group alongside legislators from various countries, including 24 from the UK.

According to Luke de Pulford, the head of IPAC, he expressed his surprise on Monday regarding the delayed response from British officials, considering the fact that the detection of the Electoral Commission’s hack took place back in 2022.

During the 2021 cyber-attack, China was recently identified as a potential culprit. This suggests that the government was initially hesitant to directly accuse China, according to his statement on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He stated that there appears to be a hesitancy to hold China responsible for their wrongdoings. The UK has only imposed sanctions on minor government officials in China for human rights violations in Xinjiang, while neglecting to do so for Hong Kong, despite their involvement with the territory in the past.

According to him, the United States has imposed sanctions on more than 40 government officials in Hong Kong. However, the UK, which holds a legal responsibility, has not sanctioned a single individual.

There was a demand for additional assistance for MPs singled out by Beijing. “We require focused penalties on the individuals responsible, but we also require aid for members of parliament and those who are singled out by Beijing. This is a very serious matter.”

The junior minister responsible for energy, Andrew Bowie, declined to provide any specific information about the potential plans proposed by Dowden.

“I am not able to provide further information on matters regarding national security,” he stated in an interview with Sky News. “I am confident that we will receive updates throughout the day from the appropriate government officials and agencies.”

Members of Parliament and members of the House of Lords are believed to be included in a group of 43 individuals that the government is expected to officially reveal were victims of cyber-attacks allegedly supported by the Chinese government.

UK authorities have the power to enact penalties on persons suspected of participating in state-sponsored meddling, such as the assault on the Electoral Commission.


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