Guard against tapping

The watchdog investigating the recent phone-tapping scandal has written to the prime minister asking that limits be placed on the actions of secret agents in tampering with communications, according to documents seen by Sunday’s Kathimerini. The Communications Privacy Protection Authority (ADAE) submitted a 14-page memorandum to Premier Costas Karamanlis last month asking that the National Intelligence Agency (EYP) and the anti-terrorism squad be given a clear indication of the boundaries within which they can operate in «the field of communications.» This comment suggests that secret agents have essentially been free to act as they please. ADAE also said the secret services have not been forthcoming with information and have not revealed the centers which they use to monitor communications. In its memorandum, the watchdog also suggested to the prime minister that ADAE should have access to information which is deemed sensitive for national security reasons. Meanwhile, a team of six experts asked by Karamanlis to come up with ways to tighten the laws on protecting privacy and to impose stricter penalties on phone companies which do not protect their customers is due to present its ideas today. Sources indicate that the panel of academics is at the center of a power struggle between the three watchdogs linked to the field of telecommunications – ADAE, the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) and the Hellenic Data Protection Authority (APPD). ADAE is said to be keen to take on a more active role and be given responsibility for issuing licenses to firms complying with security regulations but this would mean that it would be encroaching on territory currently occupied by EETT. Sources said APPD is upset that it has been left out of the consultation process for the proposals to be made by the experts. Meanwhile, the preliminary investigation into the death of the Vodafone software engineer, Costas Tsalikidis, is expected to be complete by the beginning of April and the prosecutor will submit his findings by the middle of that month.