Britain sets out plans to crack down on spying by foreign states

·1-min read

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain set out plans to crack down on hostile activity by foreign states on Tuesday, introducing a proposed law to give security services and law enforcement new powers to tackle growing threats.

The bill will haul legislation into the modern age, updating archaic official secrets acts, some dating back more than hundred years, so that they are relevant to the threats posed in the age of cyber warfare, the government said.

British spy chiefs say both China and Russia have sought to steal commercially sensitive data and intellectual property as well as to interfere in politics, while Russian agents are also accused of carrying out an attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal on British soil in 2018.

The country's treason law could also be revamped, as the country looks to suppress state-backed espionage, according to a briefing document which accompanied the Queen's speech which detailed proposed new laws on Tuesday.

"We are also considering whether there is a case to be made for criminalising other harmful activity conducted by and on behalf of states, including the consideration of updating treason laws," the document said.

A Foreign Influence Registration Scheme would also be created to help combat espionage, foreign interference and better protect scientific research, it said.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Michael Holden)

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