Tougher rules are being lined up for phone companies

The prime minister is preparing to toughen the measures against telephony companies that do not protect their customers’ privacy following the political turmoil created by the tapping of government mobile phones, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. Premier Costas Karamanlis is due to meet with representatives of the Communications Privacy Protection Authority (ADAE) and the National Telecommunications Commission (EETT) as well as academics on Monday morning. Later the same day, he will make a public address during which he will announce the government’s intention to tighten up the operating framework for telecommunications companies. Sources indicated that the prime minister will also call for a change in the criminal code and stiffer fines for mobile telephone firms that breach their terms of operation, while suggesting that Vodafone – the company at the center of the tapping affair – could be held accountable for its handling of the matter. A poll by VPRC on behalf of Skai Radio which was made public on Thursday indicated that more than three in four Greeks believe the tapping affair to be a «very important» political matter. Prompted by this sort of public reaction and growing suspicions that the government has been holding back on the truth behind the affair, Karamanlis and his advisers hope that a tightening up of the telecommunications industry may help convince voters that something is being done to prevent the phone tapping from happening again. They are also aware that PASOK will continue to push for the formation of a parliamentary committee to examine the matter. The Socialists will want to drag as many ministers as possible before the panel, if it gets the go-ahead. Meanwhile, Yiannis Diotis, the prosecutor investigating the death of Vodafone software engineer Costas Tsalikidis, and Dimitris Papangelopoulos, the chief prosecutor overseeing the probe into the phone-tapping affair, met with Supreme Court prosecutor Dimitris Linos yesterday to brief him on their progress. Diotis heard from Tsalikidis’s brother and former fiancee this week. Both said the technician suggested there were problems at work in the weeks leading up to his death. Diotis is expected to question Tsalikidis’s former co-workers next week to find out what kind of problems he had at work. Tsalikidis tendered his resignation some three weeks before he allegedly committed suicide, but it was rejected by Vodafone.

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