Jul 5, 2007

The Relativity of Eavesdropping

Britain may have more CCTV cameras per head than anywhere else in the world but when it comes to electronic surveillance the country is way behind Italy, the Netherlands and even Sweden.

Official figures have revealed UK law enforcement agencies and other government bodies made 439,000 requests to monitor telephones and email addresses in a 15 month period between 2005 and 2006, leading to comments that Britain led the world in spying on its citizens.

The UK figures might sound high but are dwarfed by interception statistics from other countries. According to figures from German scientific think-tank the Max Planck Society, Italy leads the world with 76 intercepts per 100,000 head of population, shortly ahead of the Netherlands (62), and with third-placed Sweden some way back (33). Germany comes in fourth with 23.5 intercepts per 100,000 head of population with England and Wales trailing on six intercepts per head of population.

The Netherlands came up with a standard for IP interception and championed a framework for electronic surveillance when it held the EU presidency in 2004, so it can be seen as an evangelist for technology its ready to apply on its own populace. Corruption inquiries are perceived as the reason why Italy tops the global wiretap league.

Electronic surveillance levels in US are roughly on par with those of the UK. Based on a Department of Justice intercept report to Congress, 1.2m requests to tap telephones and email addresses were made in 2005, the last year for which figures are available. Most involved requests to obtain historic lists of telephone calls with only 48,000 requests looking for real-time call data and 2,600 involving the interception of communications.

These official figures exclude so-called warrantless domestic wiretaps approved by the Bush Administration and also exclude the NSA's related and diligent efforts as part and parcel of CATCH-ALL.

For examples of rather mundane vendors making a buck by providing turn-key solutions for governments to hack into your life, take a peek at SS8 Networks , AQSACOM, and Bivio.
-Hacked & Addended Excerpt From The Register

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