OPINION

Vodafone and the accountability of the state

The great irony in Mr Koronias’s pointing of Vodafone’s finger in the direction of a nameless super-rich and technologically advanced entity is that the defense he has resorted to in front of Parliament, and indeed the world, is classic George W. Bush. «We did nothing wrong. Everyone is to blame except us.» The age of little or no government accountability may have been pioneered by Bush in the USA but it is finding fertile ground in Greece, and nowhere more fervently than in its business world. We are being told to believe that Vodafone’s CEO, in an outpouring of national pride, not only raced to figure out what was happening, to dismantle the evil tapping system lest it spread further havoc, but also to personally inform the prime minister’s office (bypassing lowlier officials in an effort, no doubt, to avoid needless bureaucratic delay) and provide them with the famous list. As with the White House’s defense in respect to the still-missing Iraqi WMD, Vodafone’s statements to date also fail to address the major underlying issue of accountability. The one undeniable fact in this whole sordid affair – regardless of who did what to whom – is that the security of Vodafone and of its paying customers was breached. Vodafone may well be another victim but nevertheless it gets paid by its customers to provide them with a service that should include the ability to carry out secure telephone conversations. The contracts that Vodafone signs with its customers are between these two parties; the customer has not entered into a contract with Ericsson, the Greek state or any transparency agency. However, these paying customers have been let down, and instead of the company providing them with security, to date only excuses have been forthcoming. Despite all the systems and international accreditations that are in place, it was not only unable to figure out what was happening for more than a year but was also unaware that Ericsson had installed the lawful interception software in the first place. To make matters worse, even after the illegal phone tapping came to light, it has taken almost a year for the third phone-tapping center to be discovered. Despite the indignation voiced by the company over the illegal spying operation that took place on its network, the answers provided by Mr Koronias, including the repeated «I don’t knows,» indicate a level of involvement on par with that of the Greek state in investigating what happened on its premises and installations. It leaves one wondering what steps are being taken to prevent it from happening again. CONSTANTINE NEZIS, Pangrati.