German authorities probe Deutsche Telekom phone monitoring | Samsung to launch Irish language handset
The Irish Examiner says that current legislation covering access to users’ mobile phone voice messages by unauthorised parties is out-of-date, according to security expert Paul Dwyer. Dwyer, who has worked with the FBI and the US secret service, said Section 98 of the Postal and Telecommunications Service Act 1983 refers to the interception of messages and does not cover someone listening to messages. He said listening to another person’s voicemail would not be considered as interception because the material has already been recorded. ComReg also said there is no regulation in place concerning this practice.
The Wall Street Journal reports that German authorities are looking into allegations that Deutsche Telekom monitored phone traffic between company officials and journalists in order to ferret out the sources of information leaks. The telecoms firm disclosed that it had come across indications of “illegal use” of wireless and fixed-line telecommunications data in 2005 and 2006. It said it had referred the case to German state prosecutors, who have begun a preliminary probe. The company did not disclose for what purposes the data were employed and by whom, but people familiar with the matter said investigators are focusing on allegations that the data were gathered by company officials to track contacts between journalists and non-executive board members, as well as management.
According to the Financial Times, Warren East, chief executive of ARM Holdings, has sounded a note of defiance in a developing battle with Intel, saying the company would be more than able to defend itself against Intel’s attempts to take a share in the market for chips that run mobile phones. Far from losing out to Intel, East said ARM could challenge Intel in providing chips for the PC market, an area that Intel dominates, as demand grows for devices that consume less power. “Intel will probably always be able to make a microprocessor that runs faster, but ARM can do one that uses less power. We are still a long way ahead in that,” said East.
The paper also says that mobile operator Vodafone is likely to undertake more acquisitions to beef up its internet services for mobile phone customers, according to sources. Although the scale of the initial purchases will probably be small, Arun Sarin, Vodafone chief executive, is hoping to calm fears that the world’s largest mobile operator could lose out in the scramble over the mobile internet. Vodafone this month made its maiden wireless internet deal by agreeing to pay STG25 million for Zyb, a Danish social networking company. Two people familiar with the situation said Vodafone was expected to make more acquisitions in mobile internet services, with similar valuations to Zyb, during the coming year.
The paper also says that the drive by companies to cut costs by moving lower-skilled IT support operations overseas has led to a fall in real wages for entry-level jobs in the UK IT industry, according to a new study. Ann Swain, chief executive of the Association of Technology Staffing Companies (ATSCo), which commissioned the research, said: “The outsourcing of entry-level IT jobs has meant fewer graduate-level jobs are available in the UK. It’s like removing the bottom rung from the career ladder.” She warned that moving lower-skilled IT jobs offshore would dissuade UK students from studying the subject, exacerbating future skill shortages.
The Sunday Tribune says that the Government is seeking out a long-term location to store its electronic voting machines, which are currently held at Gormanstown army base and a number of other locations around Ireland. However, it has warned that buying out the existing leases could take until 2009. The lease agreements have already cost the government some EUR2.5 million. Some of the machines are being stored for free, while others cost up to EUR48,000, and the cost of shifting all the voting machines to Gormanstown has already reached EUR328,000. However, an alternative location is needed as the Gormanstown facility lacks the capacity to store all the machines.
The same paper reports that US-based firm Digital Realty Trust is planning new data centres in Ireland. The company already has two facilities here and is planning a third, which will be used exclusively by Eircom. DRT recently commissioned research which found that a third of companies in Ireland with revenues of between EUR500 million and EUR650 million were planning to increase their data centre facilities in 2008, while two-thirds would need extra facilities by 2009.
The Sunday Times writes that the Office of the Refugee Application Commissioner is using Wikipedia as a source of information to decide if asylum seekers are granted refugee status. Orac has been using the online encyclopaedia as a source of information on the political situation in applicants’ stated country of origin. However, the site is considered unreliable due to the ability of users to edit the articles. The practice came to light in a High Court case where a Nigerian man was seeking leave to appeal the refusal of his asylum application.
The Sunday Business Post says that the four laptops at the centre of the Bank of Ireland theft also had details of 1,500 customers from other banks. AIB, Ulster bank and National Irish Bank were not told of the theft, however, for up to two and a half weeks, and some customers are still not aware that their details had been stolen. The bank claimed it was not unusual to have details on customer accounts from other banks, as many clients used direct debit from other accounts to pay their investments.
The same paper reports that Samsung is set to launch a new Irish language mobile phone, the Tocco. The new device will allow mobile phone owners to use predictive text in Irish. The company has hired a translation company in Ireland to make the changes to the 44,000 word dictionary. Samsung said the phone isn’t a once-off gimmick, and the facility will be added as a premium feature for what it describes as “key launches”, although it won’t necessarily put the Irish text on every new device. The Tocco will also come with a touch screen and a 5 megapixel camera.
The paper also reports that a new security system aimed at keeping an eye on your Spanish property has been launched, http://www.watchyourhome.net. The new venture will allow customers to remotely monitor their properties through a broadband-connected camera that is motion sensitive, and sends images to a website that owners can log into remotely. The system is aimed at property owners who believe their apartments may be rented out without their knowledge.
The same paper reports that Commercial Wireless has secured a minority shareholding in UK firm Tracktech. The company has the option to buy a 50 percent share of the mobile technology firm, if Tracktech hits agreed revenue and profitability targets, which it may do by February next year. Cheltenham-based Tracktech is a business-to-business provider and develops software for the Blackberry. This is the third acquisition by Commercial Wireless, which also bought a mobile phone firm earlier this year and purchased Cork-based Choice Communications in 2005.
Finally, the paper briefly reports on a new deal between Norkom Technologies and Australian retail bank St George Bank. The deal will see Norkom provide software to help the bank stay in line with counter-terrorism and anti-money-laundering legislation.