Vodafone fined 76 mln euros

The privacy watchdog investigating the phone-tapping scandal yesterday fined mobile-phone company Vodafone -76 million for its conduct in connection to the affair which led to 106 cell phones, including the prime minister's, being tapped. The Communications Privacy Protection Authority (ADAE) fined Vodafone -500,000 for each phone that was hacked into by eavesdroppers. Apart from the phone of PM Costas Karamanlis, cell phones belonging to other politicians, senior military officers and journalists were tapped. ADAE also fined Vodafone -15 million for allegedly impeding the independent watchdog's investigation. The mobile-phone operator was fined another -8 million for six more offenses, including not informing ADAE and the mobile-phone users about the wiretaps and installing the software which the unidentified eavesdroppers hacked into. The tapping began before the Olympics in August 2004 and ended in March 2005. Officials said that Swedish technology company Ericsson, which supplied parts of Vodafone's operating system, will also be questioned as part of ADAE's probe. Vodafone said the decision was «illegal, unfair and totally groundless.» The firm said it will appeal the watchdog's ruling and said it was certain it will be overturned.