Archive for the ‘Wiretap’ category

South Korea: Phone record inspection, wiretapping up.

October 7, 2008

In 2007 phone record inspection went up 38 percent in South Korea and wiretapping (what we call legal intercept in the U.S.) went up 11 percent.

South Korean lawmakers in the opposition party say that police, prosecutors and the National Intelligence Service inspected almost 142,000 telephone records in 2007, and the three government groups wiretapped 1,147 calls. The numbers were compiled by the Korea Communications Commission, the nation’s top body on communications and broadcasting policies.

Under Korean law every investigator has to win court approval before carrying out intercept activities and telephone record inspection, but – as in the U.S. – it is easier to get court approval to review and capture call data records.

The Korean government is seeking to review communications law to widen opportunities for the NIS to intercept phone calls, with a bill pending in the National Assembly.

The Korea Times: Wiretapping, Phone Record Inspection Surge.


Is China monitoring Skype calls?

October 6, 2008

 “Breaching Trust,” a 16-page report released yesterday by Nart Villenveuve of the University of Toronto Citizen Lab, has unearthed disturbing monitoring practices of TOM Online, Skype’s partner in China.

Text messages and call logs of communications on the TOM-Skype network are being stored on poorly secured public servers along with the encryption codes for the transmissions, according to the report. Text messages are filtered for keywords that trigger logging of the message, namely, messages mentioning dissidents, Taiwan, Falun Gong, or independence. These texts are not delivered to the intended recipient; instead, the full text of these messages is stored on the publicly-accessible servers, which the study’s author was able to access and decode. Also, many texts were filtered and stored that did not contain any of the flagged words on the file the report’s author was able to access. This, according to the report, insinuates that individual users of the software could be flagged for surveillance of all communications, once a banned word has been found in messages of voice transmissions.

The findings of the report suggest that TOM Online and perhaps Skype itself are much more complicit with the Chinese government than they will admit. Skype has denied cooperation with the Chinese in call and text monitoring numerous times, and responded to the author of the survey asserting that records of texts were discarded and not displayed or transmitted anywhere, according to the report. But Villenveneuve was able to find records of IP addresses, usernames and other identifying information on the servers dating to August 2007. Skype representatives attribute the security issues to TOM’s practices, not Skype’s, but the evidence is rather damning that they at least had to be somewhat aware of the volume and sensitivity of data being stored by the Chinese. 

Breaching Trust Report.

Senate approves FISA, telco immunity.

July 10, 2008


The U.S. Senate approved the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Wednesday with the telco immunity “compromise” intact. The final vote was 69-28 (Obama was a “Yes,” Clinton a “No,” and McCain a “No, thanks. I’m running for president.” The House of Representatives approved the FISA with conditional immunity (telcos need to prove the White House or top government officials said wiretapping was legal and necessary).

Now, if the government pursues a wiretapping program, it must get a special search warrant from a “secret” court, according to The Wall Street Journal’s coverage. “The government must show a program is designed to spy on foreigners outside the country and will suppress information obtained on people in the U.S. who are deemed not of interest,” the WSJ story reads.

Other than the actual vote tally, most of this is old news. Much of the coverage since the vote has focused on the split between Obama and Clinton, and on McCain accusing Obama of being a flip-flopper for originally opposing FISA and later supporting after the compromise was reached. So, why didn’t McCain vote?

Wall Street Journal: Spy Bill Passes Senate; Obama’s Support Creates Controversy.

RIM, Palm are shaking up smartphone market as we are expecting the new iPhone next week.

June 4, 2008

Surprise! Palm goes and regains some lost ground in the smartphone market.

Palm has apparently seen its smartphone market-share rise to 13.4%, up from 7.9% in Q4 2007. The popular Palm Centro is credited for helping boost the ailing smartphone manufacturer’s market-share.

RIM, makers of the popular push-emailing BlackBerry lineup of smartphones, has also seen a rise in smartphone market-share. RIM saw their BlackBerry smartphones take 44.5% of the smartphone market, up from 35.1% in Q4 2007.

But, there’s always two sides to every story. While RIM and Palm saw their market-share increase, Apple saw its market-share slide. The iPhone took a healthy US smartphone market-share of 26.7% in the fourth quarter last year. But, it seems that RIM and Palm’s success has eaten in to the iPhone’s niche. The iPhone accounted for just 19.2% of smartphones sales in the first quarter of 2008, compared to  26.7% of sales in Q4 2007.

CNN Money: RIM, Palm grab iPhone market share.

Deutsche Telekom used ex-Stasi agents to hunt for management.

June 3, 2008

Its amazing what can you do today, using technology and a few ex-Stasi agents!

It has emerged that the company used agents of the former East German secret police, the Stasi – men who learned their trade working for one of the world’s most tightly controlled states – to try to track down management moles it believed were leaking damaging stories about the company to journalists.

From Scotsman: Telecom bosses used former Stasi agents to find leaky lines.


RIM allows Indian government to monitor Blackberry network

May 22, 2008


Big Brother 

Well, it took longer than 15 days to reach a resolution, but apparently RIM is going to back down and allow the Indian government to monitor the Blackberry network in that country. What’s worse, it appears that RIM was more interested in covering its own ass than protecting user data during the negotiations: the only concession the company received from the Indian government was a promise that it won’t be held liable if there’s a leak of users’ personal information. Now, I fill better.