Communications in a suspicious society
Security of communications is a concern in protective services, as in many other areas. As your information become more open to the government, this can be an area that is fraught with risk.
In a recent discussion of electronic sweeping devices in China, where we do a lot of work, there was a consensus opinion that your room will be bugged – possibly video as well as audio, your phone will be tapped, and your computer communications will be monitored. If you have private meetings, don’t be surprised if you are joined by a Chinese official. If you bring in bug-sweeping equipment expect it to be confiscated, and consider the possibility of being arrested as a spy. We don’t think that bringing in encryptors is a smart idea, as they will be detected as soon as the listener hears the hiss of the encrypted conversation. Bottom line? Expect that everything you say and do will be seen and heard.
How about a more-Western place, like France? Well, in France, encryption codes must be turned over to the government (thus explaining why sending encrypted messages there is sometimes less helpful than might be expected). While we are not sure about the legality of encryptors in France, we have never heard of any business person having a problem with their use. Bottom line? Expect that everything you say and do will be seen and heard.
The former Soviet Socialist Republics, in our experience (and confirmed by the good folk at L-3 Communications), are a suspicious lot, and will snap up encryption and bug-sweeping equipment. And don’t think, when you meet some extremely attractive woman in Moscow, that you are suddenly any more attractive than you were in your hometown, and that the interest is merely in your attractive self. Bottom line? Expect that everything you say and do will be seen and heard.
How about the U.S.? Well, the good news is that encryptors are legal. The bad news is that reports on wiretapping seem to indicate that this doesn’t bother those doing the taps. Overall, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), has made most types of telephonic communications accessible. But not all. New York State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to require manufacturers to make devices that can be tapped by police, as he said they must do under the CALEA. This includes wireless phones with features such as “push to talk” and devices that offer picture and video messaging, as well as “voice over Internet” services, Spitzer said. How about the Internet? Well, a quick web search on Carnivore will tell you all you need to know. And as most of you know, some hotels now have video cameras in rooms to monitor employees. Bottom line? Expect that everything you say and do will be seen and heard.