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Information and Communication Ministry Changes Its Stance to “Technically Feasible”

Information and Communication Ministry Changes Its Stance to “Technically Feasible”

Posted August. 17, 2005 06:27,   


The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) has acknowledged the possibility of mobile phone wiretapping, reversing its original position that it is “realistically impossible.”

The MIC has also unveiled anti-wiretapping measures such as a new encryption system.

Minister Chin Dae-je revealed during the briefing on August 16, “Given the ability to build mobile communications base stations, it is not impossible to eavesdrop on cellular phone calls.”

Chin added, “Although it is technically feasible to tap into mobile phones, only the national agency in charge of national security would develop the core components for wiretapping equipment without any financial incentives and invest a large amount of resources.” This is a de-facto acknowledgement of the possibility that national institutions can eavesdrop on mobile phone conversations.

The Information Ministry had been claiming that wiretapping cell phones was infeasible even after the National Intelligence Service disclosed on August 5 that wiretapping was being conducted.

The ministry announced that it would upgrade the current encryption system so that individual cell phone calls can be encrypted by the end of next year in response to increasing fears from citizens over mobile phone wiretapping.

In addition, a new certification service will be introduced in order to verify the encryption code embedded in each of the phones against the certification number of the mobile carriers.

Suk-Min Hong In-Jik Cho smhong@donga.com cij1999@donga.com