PM advised on tapping

Academics who were assigned the task of examining Greece’s telecommunications laws in the wake of recent revelations about phone-tapping recommended to the prime minister yesterday that some adjustment be made to legislation and that industry watchdogs be given clearer roles. The panel of six professors recommended that firms or individuals found to have breached privacy laws should face stiffer penalties. Overall though, the team told Premier Costas Karamanlis that Greece’s present laws were adequate for creating a framework to protect communications. They suggested, however, that the authorities overlooking the implementation of these laws needed to have their roles more clearly defined. Three watchdogs currently have a say in communication matters – the Communications Privacy Protection Authority (ADAE), the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) and the Hellenic Data Protection Authority (APPD). «I would say that there needs to be a clarification of responsibilities and some general cooperation,» Professor Dimitris Tsatsos of Panteion University told journalists. «This is a matter of national importance. It is about the defense of democracy and Greek citizens,» he added. The panel said it was vital that lawmakers keep up with technological advances and suggested a national-level public dialogue about the freedom and security of communications. «The government’s intention is to make use of the views of the academic world to enrich, if needed, our legislative arsenal,» said Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras. After meeting with Karamanlis as well, the justice minister said that a committee would be set up at his ministry to prepare new laws, or adjust existing ones, based on the suggestions made by the six academics as well as those of ADAE and EETT.