Princess Haya Phone Hacking: What to do if Your Phone is Hacked

4th April 2022 Media Law

During a breakdown of relations, Sheikh Mohammed, vice president of the UAE (and one of the world’s most powerful men) used hacking technology usually restricted to government anti-terrorist efforts to unlawfully access his estranged wife’s phone in order to learn more about a personal, domestic dispute.

While seemingly a far cry from the average British citizen, the situation has rebirthed concerns about the severity and applications of phone hacking. Read more to find out what you can do if you find your phone has been hacked.

The English High Court assessed the the use of Israeli company NSO’s military-grade hacking technology to survey the Sheikh’s partner, ruling that no one else could have had access to the systems used and that, considering the fact that the UAE government leaders had employed this type of intimidation tactic previously, the evidence of the digital activity brought forward by various involved associations - including NSO itself - was almost concrete proof.

In our JMW’s Inside Man video, leading media, entertainment and communications lawyer Nick McAleenman discussed the ways this case study can be applied to mobile phone safety in the UK. 

If you think you have had your phone hacked and your data breached, you must first consider your objectives, and what you want to achieve from pursuing lawful action. Are you suspicious that your phone was hacked, or do you know for sure that it has been breached? You should take legal advice from an expert solicitor - like Nick McAleenman and those at JMW - to figure out whether you have a real issue on your hands, and what you can get back from this. 

Depending on the nature of your relationship with the other party, you might want to take different action, resolve it yourself or, if it is someone (or an organisation) you are intimidated by, take legal action to safely protect yourself and gain back what you have lost.

Through professional lawyers, you could instruct IT forensic investigators to scope out exactly what wrongdoing has taken place. This is a key step in learning what kinds of charges to press and how severe the situation is.

If you can use evidence to prove that you have been hacked, various remedies may be available to you depending on the crime. You could claim compensation in the form of money, enact an injunction to stop the other party from committing something similar in the future, or explore further orders from the court based on what information was taken.

Phone hacking brings with it many legal issues. Your course of action and the claim may be completely different depending on whether the access to your phone resulted in:

  • Unlawful access of your private information
  • Misuse of private information
  • A breach of human rights
  • A breach of confidential information

Further to this, it could infringe your data rights, and it could fall into criminal law if the other party, for example, intercepted your personal messages. This could be called under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

There are a number of ways in which you can keep your phone protected from hacking, such as methods as simple as keeping your device up to date with the latest security patches, to keeping it safe from physical threats by using a strong password, and utilising fingerprint and facial recognition technology.

Phone hacking can be a serious crime with many implications that may affect anyone from princesses to the average person. If you think you have been affected by hacking, contact our expert solicitors now by calling 0345 872 6666 and our team will be happy to help.

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Nick McAleenan is a Partner located in Manchester in our Media & Reputation Management; Data Protection & Privacy department

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