80,000 wiretaps in Taiwan this year

Over at the Ministry of Justice the other day I was being asked about wiretaps back in California. Over at the Legislative Yuan they are holding hearing about an amendment to the Taiwanese wiretap law. The big issue is whether the Taiwanese cops should be allowed to apply for wiretaps directly to the court or whether they have to go through the prosecutors office.

In the course of that discussion I heard an interesting fact that kind of knocked me off my chair and kind of undermines the Big Taiwan is Human Right Friendly idea.

Here is the fact:
Between Jan 1st to May 1st this year over 80,000 different phone numbers were tapped in Taiwan. Taiwan is not that big a place, that is a lot of wiretaps. And those figures have stayed pretty much at that rate over the past five years or so. The cops like wire taps because they are fucking lazy and it is an easy way to investigate (or pretend to investigate) a case. Plus they get Cop Credit Points for every wiretap they drop.

Now I know why I do not use the phone. I rely on email and shady meetings under the bridge to conduct my business.

Yours in privacy,
Brian

Given a couple of high profile drug busts I’d say furriners would have to be on the receiving end of some of that, which must be pretty damned funny if you think about the different slang and accents, even languages involved. I’m reminded of the folks Lord Lucan knew in China in the early nineties who were chatting on the phone in English then switched to French, which caused a frustrated third party to cut in and demand they return to English! Really happened, apparently.

Then again, there are foreign plods in Taiwan helping the local boys in blue out. Therefore, a timely word of caution, Brian.

HG

[quote=“brianlkennedy”]Over at the Ministry of Justice the other day I was being asked about wiretaps back in California. Over at the Legislative Yuan they are holding hearing about an amendment to the Taiwanese wiretap law. The big issue is whether the Taiwanese cops should be allowed to apply for wiretaps directly to the court or whether they have to go through the prosecutors office.

In the course of that discussion I heard an interesting fact that kind of knocked me off my chair and kind of undermines the Big Taiwan is Human Right Friendly idea.

Here is the fact:
Between Jan 1st to May 1st this year over 80,000 different phone numbers were tapped in Taiwan. Taiwan is not that big a place, that is a lot of wiretaps. And those figures have stayed pretty much at that rate over the past five years or so. The cops like wire taps because they are fucking lazy and it is an easy way to investigate (or pretend to investigate) a case. Plus they get Cop Credit Points for every wiretap they drop.

Now I know why I do not use the phone. I rely on email and shady meetings under the bridge to conduct my business.

Yours in privacy,
Brian[/quote]

I use pigeons and smoke signals. Works a treat.

THe UK is far worse than Taiwan in this respect as there is one CCTV camera for every 4 people. Amazing eh!!!

Wire taps are also used all the time now in UK, supposedly to protect us all from Bin Laden and rabid shoe bombers!

The war on drugs and the war on terror.

George Orwell’s book should of been called 2004 not 1984

[quote=“Huang Guang Chen”]Given a couple of high profile drug busts I’d say furriners would have to be on the receiving end of some of that[/quote]They used to just tap foreigners phones routinely just to check on what they were up to. Certainly in Taichung this task kept a couple of cops busy full time. I asked the same question back then about differenct accents etc. and how they hell they could understand all the slang. The answer was that they had help from random foreign English teachers, in exchange for, er, assistance with their visa processing.

also from todays Taipei Times:

MOJ indicted 9,889 people for corruption
Among the 9,889 individuals, 3,612 had received a final verdict with 2,070 found guilty.

Just remember…“An indictment is not a conviction.”

Yep. Pretty much what I was told by someone in the know a while back. I was also told that overseas calls were routinely tapped. It used to bug me to think that someone was probably listening in on my conversations with my folks, but I got used to it after a while. After all, I had nothing to hide and it wasn’t my country. I think 88,000 taps is quite low. I’m sure it used to be much higher.

Yep. Pretty much what I was told by someone in the know a while back. I was also told that overseas calls were routinely tapped. It used to bug me to think that someone was probably listening in on my conversations with my folks, but I got used to it after a while. After all, I had nothing to hide and it wasn’t my country. I think 88,000 taps is quite low. I’m sure it used to be much higher.[/quote]

Well they can’t tap skype as the encryption is too good.

So if you have anything to say in private do it on skype.

Yep. Pretty much what I was told by someone in the know a while back. I was also told that overseas calls were routinely tapped. It used to bug me to think that someone was probably listening in on my conversations with my folks, but I got used to it after a while. After all, I had nothing to hide and it wasn’t my country. I think 88,000 taps is quite low. I’m sure it used to be much higher.[/quote]

Well they can’t tap skype as the encryption is too good.

So if you have anything to say in private do it on skype.

That’s 20,000 a month.

Wait. Maybe it isn’t. Is that 80,000 the number of wiretaps initiated, or the total number under investigation over that four months? Any idea of how long they usually monitor a line for? Are we talking 20,000 new investigations a month or the same 80,000 being monitored for years?

Either way, it’s a lot.

Mr Kennedy,

Long time no soliciting of your awesome legal knowledge! (p.s. I got 80% for that research assignment on cop killers you helped me with a few years back - your ‘interview’ was acknowledged with a vigorously flourished tick, in pencil, by the bloke marking it, followed by a quizical ‘summary?’)

On to the wiretaps. I was wondering, for personal satisfaction and a route with which to continue my own nasty and unscrupulous savaging of the mores of Taiwanese society, how it all works. Fortunately, despite my having a land line in my apartment, there is no phone attached. It broke a while back, and because my shorty was the only one using it (yet, surprisingly, not paying for it…) I felt it was in my best interests not to get a new one. That’s neither here nor there, though.

The phone line is registered in my landlady’s father’s name. For interest’s sake, is this enough of a winding path to throw off the snoops? Do you know how ‘they’ know which lines to tap? Are we being traced through household registrations for example? Or are those foxy minxes we give our numbers to in the hope of having our bells rung really undercover agents hell-bent on doing us in? Are our companies selling us out?! Answers, man, answers!!

Likewise, are cell-phones at risk? Again, my cell number ‘belongs’ to a Taiwanese bloke I knew in 2001 and haven’t seen for years. The bill gets sent to his place, but I just go to the Taiwan Big Brother Big offices and get a printout of the statement and then pay it. However, I always had the feeling that he was involved in some shady dealings, so I guess that there’s a risk of him being under surveillance, and therefore me too (well, for a time at least - it is well-known that I fart rose-scented treats, and crap wholesome goodness. My sweat is likened to the tears of angels, and my breath a refreshing breeze on hot and humid days).

How about text messages? Can these be intercepted?

I do have a vague recollection of a few months back having a chat with a mate, and suddenly something I said was repeated, in a voice that could’ve been mine (you know, husky and sensual) but certainly wasn’t a member of the Taiwanese constabulary’s, nor my mate’s. At the time we were talking about where to go for dinner, and it was the location that was repeated. We were both on cells.

What can be done with information gathered off wiretaps? Is it used as a reference point for starting investigations and giving the boys in blue a kick-start regarding which paths to follow? Or is it admissible as evidence of wrong-doing?

So when you have the time, I’d like the answers on no more than 1 A4 piece of paper (or 300 words), and try and make it neat this time, okay? :wink:

Yes. All SMS are routed via the SMSC (Short Message Service Center) where they will be stored until delivered to the receiver’s phone. It would be no problem to store them longer, forward them to another place or generate a log of all the messages, including caller IDs, time stamp and content.