Feeds

Italy tops global wiretap league

State of the surveillance nation

High performance access to file storage

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.

A report (PDF) from the Interception of Communications Commissioner, the UK surveillance watchdog, reports that 4,000 "errors" were made over the report period. Most concerned less serious slip-ups involving requests to obtain lists of telephone calls and individual email addresses, but 67 involved errors that led to the direct interception of communications.

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.

Scott Coleman, director of marketing for lawful intercept at electronic surveillance firm SS8 Networks, said the Max Planck data reflected its own perception of the marketplace. "There's nothing weird or out of place. It supports our perception that Italy has more interception going on than any other country and reflects what we think is going on in the US and UK. We think the numbers are accurate," he told El Reg.

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 wiretaps that were approved as part of the domestic arm of the Bush Adminsrations War on Terror and also exclude the work of the National Security Agency, the US's secret signals intelligence agency.

SS8 Networks makes middleware that helps service providers manage the collection of data from wiretaps across multiple voice and data connections. The firm's Xcipio products allow carriers to meet regulatory requirements for supporting law enforcement agencies.

Under the controversial Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act US broadband and VoIP providers face a 14 May compliance deadline for setting up systems that allow them to process wiretapping requests from law enforcement agencies. Despite this looming deadline, standards bodies are yet to come up with a finalised standard for how the technology ought to be applied, Coleman reports. "The legislation has led to some increase as a result of sales to broadband providers but the diversity of communication protocols across different network types is more important to our business," he added. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.