Drafted this last night, and eventually decided it was a little too inside-baseball, especially since so many people would prefer to devote their free time to freaking out about the Neverending Debt-Ceiling Debacle. But after Cole’s ISP post Sunday afternoon…
That subsector of Rupertdammerung known as “Hackgate” may have found its Frank Wills. According to John Ward at The Slog, travelling salesman Steve Nott “… went to the police, the newspapers and other key institutions in 1999. He devoted a year thereafter to warning anyone who’d listen about how easy it was to hack a mobile phone.“:
In late 1998, salesman Steve Nott lost his mobile phone network coverage, and rang Vodafone from a service station – to ask how he could access his message. Vodafone told him exactly how – without making any checks – and helpfully added that Steve could use this to get into anyone’s mobile at any time. Says Nott:
“I was gobsmacked that it was so easy to be able to do this, and spent the next couple of months having fun and games with my mates phones, work colleagues phones and so on. I realised that this issue of easily being able to intercept voicemail, change welcome greetings, delete messages and change the voicemail PIN was too serious to play about with and decided to make some noise about the risks to National Security I’d stumbled across.” […]
Ward adds his own gloss:
I have blogged for years on the subject of how most ISPs and phonecos are allowed to behave like pirates and avoid legal regulation with any teeth because the police and security services need them. The one big nuisance for our interior security Ministries about Hackgate is that it has made public something they’ve probably been doing with impunity for twenty years or more, going back to the dawn of mobiles.
It seems very odd indeed that for most of those years, the biggest mobile operator in the UK, Vodafone, produced no details about personal security protection in their manuals….and then blatantly tried to downplay the danger on national BBC Radio. Were they asked to leave out these details by more shadowy characters? Was the unwillingness of either tabloid or ITN to run the story as much a case of being warned off by the security services?
Nobody should regard those questions as wild, paranoid conspiracy theory. All the ISPs now have GCHQ monitoring software installed that covers every email written in, and received by, Britain. We know from our unhappy time under the Home Secretaryship of Jacqui Smith that she blithely gave these and more powers to GCHQ – whose demands to monitor the ‘danger’ posed by a tiny minority of militants has given them carte blanche to watch, listen to and transcribe every human contact we have with one another in the UK. We also know that Ms Smith lied to Parliament about having cancelled a ‘test’ programme of monitoring that would’ve cost a staggering £13 billion. The test went on secretly to become the real thing – and the £13 billion was duly spent.
Since he is not resident in The Greatest Country in the World, Mr. Ward’s countertops are presumably safe from inspection. But perhaps it says something about the infectiousness of Murdoch’s tabloid style that we’re already talking about a dead Hoare and a loose Nott…