Dumb it down
Is my phone really being tapped?
In an article published by the Irish Examiner today, it was revealed that record levels of private communications were accessed in 2010. But why?
All this talk about privacy has me a bit worried. Should I be?
Well, not really. Unless you’re the king pin in an elaborate underground crime ring, a terrorist or using the internet for all the wrong reasons – the seriously wrong reasons. If that doesn't sound like you and you live a crime free life then you’re not likely to have ever been tapped.
What are they looking for exactly?
Criminals, basically. In the past the Revenue Commission has used tapping devices that helped detect around €35m-worth of illegal cigarettes before they were smuggled onto the streets. So in that sense, it’s all a great idea.
So they’re not after regular Joe’s then?
Well that’s still hard to say. According to Conor Ryan of the Irish Examiner, in a single twelve month period (2010) the Gardaí, the Defence Forces, and Revenue Commissioners requested between them almost 15,000 records from telecom companies of “private citizens’ activity”.
That was a 32 per cent rise in in state-authorised spying compared to the year pervious. So they’re not afraid to have a snoop. It’s still unclear as to who, why or what exactly the tapping instances are looking for. Well, apart from looking for criminals.
Is it just phone lines that they’re after?
Nope. The large increase in in state-authorised spying can be pinned to the demand for access to people’s online information. As the tech bubble blooms and criminals begin to become tech savvy, so too does the interest in what they’re up to online – naturally.
Can the telecoms companies turn around and not give them the info?
Yes actually, but they very rarely do these days. Apparently, in 2009 there was 92 occasions when the telecom companies were ‘unable’ to supply the information being sought. However, this was somewhat drastically reduced in 2010 to just four occasions.
If they do tap a call, what happens then?
Well, once they believe that the tapping in question has some reliable information it is retained indefinitely, just in case an investigation comes up in the future. However, if there’s nothing credible, it’s usually thrown out after one or two years.
So I shouldn’t worry too much?
Like we said, unless you deal in something other than cars, you should be fine.