Mon, Nov 11, 2013 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

SID also hacking civilians

I watched with great interest the responses of the chiefs of British intelligence agencies MI5, MI6 and Government Communications Headquarters giving a democratic question-and-answer session with the British parliament’s Committee on Security.

British Member of Parliament Sir Menzies Campbell’s comment after the session that “more transparency needs to be given to the British public” is commendable.

Democracy is alive and well in Britain. However, these are the same spy organizations that gave us “intelligence” that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Yet they are also the same organizations that have foiled numerous terrorist acts on British soil. They emphasized that a person will only be hacked if they are deemed a threat to national security.

US whistleblower Edward Snowden set them back years by revealing some of their tactics and modus operandi. The media in Britain cannot be bullied. They constantly push the democratic boundaries for the sake of human rights and freedom of expression, even though the News of the World newspaper seemed to use underhanded tactics — namely hacking — to get headlines.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Taiwan. I refer to Lin Feng-jeng’s (林峰正) recent article on spying in Taiwan (“Easy surveillance leads to abuse,” Nov. 5, page 8). Despite the local media being interested in the hacking of politician’s telephone lines, such as that of Legislative Speaker Jin-pyng (王金平), nothing has been done about it. Instead, all has gone quiet.

As evidenced by my case, innocent residents are also being targeted and nothing has been done about that either. A lot of evidence can be garnered from your laptop’s event log. My laptop’s memory reveals that it has been the subject of hacking from the Special Investigative Division (SID) of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, the Criminal Investigation Bureau or the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau, complete with user IDs.

The XML data history makes for interesting reading. I am not a threat to Taiwan’s national security, but I am somehow a threat to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government, which oversees the SID. My laptop and cellphone were hacked for many months. This can happen to anyone, as indicated by Lin and Snowden.

Despite the best efforts of Taiwan’s media, authoritarianism still exists in the nation. There is little democracy in Taiwan if the government gets away with hacking in situations when there is no national security threat. This is outlawed in Britain and most other countries around the world. However, in Taiwan, this is commonplace.

Releasing “classified” information is a threat to a nation’s security, which is why Snowden is a wanted man around the world. He signed a confidentiality clause when he started working for the US National Security Agency, but broke his contract. Therefore, he must face the consequences.

Human Rights activists like Campbell are correct in their statements, but as the British spy chiefs stated on Saturday, trying to find terrorist cells, pedophiles and fraudsters on the Internet is like looking for a needle in a haystack. So why must they waste their resources listening to innocent civilians?

Perhaps the SID should explain to the public why it has the right to listen to innocent politicians’ conversations and hack into innocent civilians’ laptops. This will never happen and until then, the KMT government will blindly lead Taiwan into unification with China.

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