Bericht zur Überwachung

Surveillance report.

This was one German newspaper‘s translation of Vodafone’s Law Enforcement Disclosure Report, which the telecom said will be published annually.

Vodafone’s pioneering Law Enforcement Disclosure Report said that in some of the 29 countries where it does business the governments have connected directly to the telecom’s networks and can listen to its customers’ phone conversations live without involving or informing the company.

Also, in the countries of Albania, Egypt, Hungary, India, Malta, Qatar, Rumania and South Africa, it is illegal for telecommunications providers to publish how many requests for wiretapping they have received from the government.

(Bear ICHH t   tsoo ah   üb ah VOCHH oong.)

“Das Geld dafür geben die Anderen”

“Other people are paying for it,” how financial reporter Frank Bethmann commented the U.S. company Verizon’s “schwindelerregend” offer of $130 billion to buy out British partner Vodafone’s stake in their U.S. joint venture Verizon Wireless. In the 02 Sep 2013 announcement of the sale, Verizon said as part of it they intended to borrow $25 billion one week later at the currently very low interest rates; that would have been the largest amount ever borrowed by a company in the history of the world apparently.

Update on 12 Sep 2013: Verizon’s $49 billion Unternehmensanleihe [“company loan” i.e. corporate bond] “emission in eight tranches at varying interest rates and terms to investors around the globe” was the biggest ever, according to manager-magazin.de, adding that the takeover itself was also the third-biggest ever.

This is not the only vertiginous telecom merger in the works. There’s two in the German market as well.

On 23 Jul 2013, Spanish Telefónica’s German subsidiary O2 announced that it wanted to buy the Dutch KPN’s German subsidiary E-Plus, though “only” for five billion euros. The resulting company would become the German market’s largest mobile phone provider (43 million customers), followed by Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-mobile (37 million customers) and then the British Vodafone (32 million c.). The merger required approval from German and E.U. competition authorities.

Update on 12 May 2014: The German Monopoly Commission [Monopolkommission] told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung they expect the E.U. to set serious competition-saving conditions for approving Telefónica’s acquisition of E-plus, including that there will still be four mobile telephony providers in the German market after the merger. “Abstract concessions and offers won’t do it.” Three mobile phone providers competing in the German market would not suffice because E-plus was the one that stirred up the market the most and it would be the one disappearing.

Update on 13 Sep 2013: Now British Vodafone is purchasing the Munich-based Kabel Deutschland, “Germany’s biggest cable network operator,” at ~8.5 million television households,” for ~11 billion euros (~7.7 billion for ≥75% of Kabel Deutschland’s stock and the rest to cover Kabel’s debts; stock cost to be announced Monday 16 Sep 2013), according to Spiegel.de and manager-magazin.de. This will increase Vodafone’s competitiveness with Deutsche Telekom in the German market selling wireless and landline telephonery, television cable and internet access. European competition authorities approved the deal on 20 Sep 2013.

Huge telecom mergers & acquisitions could be motivated by more than just the roseate future of voice and internet communications plus current rock-bottom interest rates. If telecom industry people believe governments will stop defending net neutrality and consumer privacy, they will fear they must join a large existing telecom and fight to expand it, or die. They will not think risky entrepreneurship or small-to-medium-sized companies are an option. If a telecom gets big enough in a deregulated market that includes suspicionless surveillance, the money will sort itself out somehow. In regulatory situations where governments have to grant unusual concessions to big telecoms, governments will grant unusual concessions to big telecoms.

(Doss   GELD   dah foor   gay ben   dee   ON dare en.)

“Völlig achtlos kann sich der Verbraucher nicht verhalten.”

“Consumers cannot behave entirely heedlessly,” said a representative of Germany’s federal-level consumer protection agency, reminding Vodafone customers to keep an eye on their bank accounts for any strange activity.

The data of two million German Vodafone customers, including direct-debit banking data, have been stolen. Düsseldorf prosecutors are investigating. Vodafone discovered the theft on 05 Sep 2013 and announced it to the public a week later. They said they thought it was an employee at an external service provider.

The company set up a F.A.Q. website for the issue here.

Spiegel.de reminds us that last year Vodafone learned in December 2012 that its hardware had made its customers’ private data vulnerable, but the company only informed its customers after the Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik [Federal Office for Safety in Information Technology, BSI] in Hamburg publicly announced a safety warning in August 2013.

(FULL ichh   OCHH t loh ss   con   zichh   dare   fair BROW chh ah   nichh t   fair HALT en.)

 

Wirtschaftsspionage

“Economic espionage,” industrial espionage. June 2013 reports that Germany was the N.S.A.’s most-spied-on country in the E.U. created German misgivings that financial advantages might be being sought.

The Guardian.co.uk’s “heat map” for the NSA’s “Boundless Informant” surveillance system indicated only countries like Iran, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt and India were being monitored more than Germany.

This fear was not alleviated by Süddeutsche Zeitung and Norddeutsche Rundfunk reporting on 02 Aug 2013 describing Snowden-trove British General Communications Headquarters docs from 2009. It listed U.K. telecoms that “assisted” G.C.H.Q. (with each company’s code name): Verizon Business (“Dacron”), British Telecommunications (“Remedy”), Vodafone Cable (“Gerontic”), Global Crossing (“Pinnage”), Level 3 (“Little”), Viatel (“Vitreous”) and Interoute (“Streetcar”); some of these telecom companies even developed software to help spy on their customers and were paid for that by G.C.H.Q. “For the good of the British economy” was a reason given in a G.C.H.Q. PowerPoint presentation for why these telecoms were selling their customers’ communications.

Update on 19 Jan 2014: ZDF heute journal reported the listening post atop the U.S. embassy in Berlin was indeed used for economic espionage: they were interested in the Chancellor’s opinions about the euro currency, for example.

In 2003, the company Ferrostaal, headquartered in Essen, was competing with a U.S. company for a contract to deliver radio monitoring equipment to Nigeria. The U.S. embassy in Berlin supplied Ferrostaal’s U.S. competitor with data from Ferrostaal’s secret bid, according to an embassy cable found in the Wikileaks trove. Details ZDF showed in a copy of the cable included the German company’s offered price (24 million euros) and financing (“5.1 to 7.0 percent for possibly 5 years”). The U.S. company won the contract.

(VEE at shofts ess pee own OJ.)

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