Wiretaps beget wiretaps -- I don't hate that much to say I told you so.

For some time in my talks on CALEA and VoIP I’ve pointed out that because the U.S. government is mandating a wiretap backdoor into all telephony equipment, the vendors putting in these backdoors to sell to the U.S. market, and then selling the same backdoors all over the world. Even if you trust the USGov not to run around randomly wiretapping people without warrants, since that would never happen, there are a lot of governments and phone companies in other countries who can’t be trusted but whom we’re enabling. All to catch the 3 stupid criminals who use VoIP and don’t use an encrypted system like Skype.

Recently this story about a wiretap on the Greek PM’s phone was forwarded to me by John Gilmore. Ericsson says that they installed wiretap backdoors to allow legal wiretaps, and this system was abused because Vodaphone didn’t protect it very well — a claim they deny. As a result there was tapping of the phone of the prime minister for months, as well as foreign dignitaries and a U.S. Embassy phone. Well, there’s irony.

We’re hearing about this because there is accountability in Greece. But I have to assume it’s going to happen a lot in countries where we will never hear about it. If you build the apparatus of the surveillance society, even with the best of intentions, it will get used that way, either here, or in less savoury places.

It would be nice if U.S. companies would at least refuse to sell the wiretap functions, or charge a fortune for them, to countries without legal requirements for them like the USA. Of course, soon that won’t be very many, thanks to the US lead, and the companies will have to include the backdoors to do business in all those nations. Will U.S. companies have the guts to say, “Sorry China, Saudi Arabia, et al. — no wiretap backdoors in our product, law or not. Add it yourself if you can figure it out.”

I don't follow why they

I don't follow why they should have the guts to say "Sorry China" if there's a chinese law like the U.S. law.

If anyone "should have the guts" in this context it should be the U.S. government to not have a law like that (and to encourage companies to sell the same no-backdoor equipment to the rest of the world).

- ask

It would indeed be great

If we could fight this phenomenon in the USA as well as elsewhere. But you can't be a telecom systems company without the US and EU markets, though you can be one without the Chinese market, at least for now.

But more to the point, these companies usually based in the USA, and thus forced to follow U.S. law, even for what they export. They are not required to follow Chinese law back at HQ, and only have to follow it (or rather their customers have to follow it) if they export to China.

And, let's face it, as worried as we are getting about the situation in the USA, it's no China.

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