2007/04/30

Privacy?

Niigmiin Toli, a Mongolian language daily newspaper, published a list of around 300 mobile telephone numbers with names of people and organizations whose conversations are heard by legal enforcement agencies of Mongolia.
Would you believe that every mobile phone users are under surveillance control by state force organizations? This detailed list, which has names, home address and social security numbers, is kept in a computer of General Intelligence Agency, and Criminal Police Department.
The newspaper seems to have found this list through its "unofficial channels" in those enforcement agencies, as Mongolian press usually does. But it did not say the source, of course, to protect the source.

The newspaper published "only" numbers start with 9910.... (Gold users), 9911.... (Platinium users) and 9925.... (pre-paid card users) of the Mobicom.

The list included ordinary people's numbers from 99250127-99250208, and from 99250263-99250404.
These are some of the organizations that are heard (99110000-99110124, 99116854-99116924):
Businesses (some are foreign invested companies): Minnis International, NIC Oil, Mobicom, Ulaanbaatar railway, APU, Ulaanbaatar Khivs, Cashmere Fine Asia, and Itoshu Corporation.
Mining companies: Boroo Gold, Ivanhoe Mines, Mongol Gazar, Diamond, SOCO Tamsag Mongol, and Erel.
Some banks: Trade and Development Bank, XAC Bank, Anod Bank, Zoos Bank, Mongol Post Bank, and Golomt Bank.
Telecom companies: Newtel, Smarcard, and Datacom.
International aid organizations: USAID, and JICA Mongolia-Japan Center.
Diplomatic missions: Embassy of Republic of Korea, and Embassy of China.
Mobicom, the first cell phone service provider of Mongolia, showed good lessons to its next providers. A list of Skytel company's users is also in there. Unitel company also discloses same type of list to state force organizations if they are needed. Also bills of users are faxed to state force organizations if they want.
What does this mean all about? Is this true? If it is, it's horrible. Someone will hear your conversation, and find out whom you dialed? for how long? and when? when your number is on their desk.
There is a rustling noise comes when a third-party comes in.
The newspaper also published under-surveillance telephone numbers of the President of Mongolia, N. Enkhbayar, Commander in Chief of Mongolian Armed Forces, Prime Minister M. Enkhbold, and Minister of Justice and Home Affairs.
Two years ago, Mobicom subscribers were advised to come to the nearest branch office and re-register their numbers. The company gave bonus gift at that time depending on the years that users have been using. It's undeniable that Mobicom updated their information that is given to legal enforcement organizations.
The other day, when I was buying some eggs from a trading place at the wholesale marketplace next to Narantuul market, I heard following conversation by accident.
One man came in the room and said to another man:
- I want to find one person. Is there a way to find by phone?
- Man or woman (laughed)?
- Man. He is avoiding me.
- Is it Mobicom?
- Mobicom.
- Tell Tungaa (name changed). She is the one who sat behind it.
This proves there is no privacy at all. It does not matter whether Tunga could disclose that man's information or if they were kidding, this is totally unacceptable.

A staff of our newsroom was shocked some years ago when name and home address were disclosed by an unknown person who threatened on the phone.

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