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[June 08, 2014]


(Wales on Sunday (Wales) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) WIKILEAKS has revealed that Welsh billionaire Terry Matthews' nowcollapsed firm Newport Networks planned technology to make it possible to eavesdrop on phone and internet communications.

The online organisation has posted internal documents from the company - which was founded by the Celtic Manor boss in 2000 - which detailed how its hardware would make it possible to "provide access to private communications".

The technology was being developed because of the requirement on service providers to allow law-enforcement agencies to monitor communications.

The extent to which phone communications have been monitored by spy agencies like America's National Security Agency has recently provoked outrage since it was revealed by US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

"Lawful interception is a requirement placed upon service providers to provide legally sanctioned official access to private communications," the Newport Networks paper said.

"Whilst the detailed requirements for lawful interception may differ from one jurisdiction to another, the general requirements are the same.

"The lawful interception system must provide transparent interception of specified traffic only, and the subject must not be aware of the interception.

"The service provided to other users must not be affected during interception." Government spying hit the headlines after CIA computer expert Edward Snowden leaked files revealing mass-surveillance programs were undertaken by the America's NSA and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The agencies accessed information from major US technology companies and intercepted data from fibreoptic cables.

Newport Networks developed its technology to allow monitoring of calls made over the web.

Before, the 2006 report said, calls were bugged "by applying a physical 'tap' on the telephone line of the target in response to a warrant from a law enforcement agency".

But internet technology changed the game.

"It is no longer possible to guarantee the interception of c a l l s based on tapping a physical line," the file said.

"Any network operator building a publicly available voice or multimedia over internet protocol service today will need to plan a network which is flexible enough to implement these regulatory services," the paper said.

Dr Gerry Hughes is director of the Centre for Intelligence and International Security Studies at Aberystwyth University.

"This is embarrassing because this is a British company based in Caldicot," he said.

"We are talking about a private telecommunications hardware firm offering itself up for this kind of work.

"This is what we call the privatisation of intelligence which has been proceeding apace for the last 20 years." "There is a lot of call for this kind of thing." A source close to Newport Networks insisted firms were legally bound to help emergency and security services intercept calls.

"The onus is on phone companies to provide the emergency services, that's the 999 service, with this," the insider said.

"They are also have a legal obligation to allow the police and security services to be able to intercept traffic being conducted by suspected criminals and terrorists." Industry body the European Telecommunications Standards Institute told Wales on Sunday businesses had to comply with the law.

"Countries have decided to enact laws that give them the authority to intercept personal communications based on various criteria," a spokesman said. "It is usually for the purposes of criminal investigation, that kind of thing." Terry Matthews was not available for comment.

Comment and analysis: Internet (c) 2014 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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