In the UK for months now there has been a scandal brewing that last week culminated in one of the biggest papers in the UK, the 169-year-old News of the World (NOTW) tabloid closing its doors. For decades specialist hackers that worked for the Newspaper would hack into celebrity phones and listen to messages. It didn’t stop with the glitterati as even the London 7/7 suicide victims were hacked as well as 911 victims. Sinking even lower NOTW employees hacked into missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler and her family’s phones in March 2002. When concerned friends and families filled up the phone’s message account the NOTW employees deleted messages so that there would be room for more people to call and more potential dirt to sell papers. The fact that messages were being deleted by the newspaper gave false hope to the victim’s family that she might be alive (She had already been murdered) as well as erasing messages what could have been vital to the police investigation.
What makes this story even crazier is that when police initially started investigating rumours that the paper was hacking phones the News of the World successfully thwarted the investigation by hacking the police inspectors and revealing scandalous info about them that got them fired or disciplined and thus forcing the case to close. It wasn’t just the phone hacking, the tabloids paid out millions in bribes to the police, hospital workers and cell phone company staff for private information.
Another investigation was scuttled a couple of years later and New of the World would still be hacking phones if it wasn’t for one of the NOTW journalists at the center of the investigation being caught on tape talking about the phone hacks by Hugh Grant … yes that Hugh Grant. Grant was trying his hand at investigative journalism (Probably a little revenge after being burned so many times by the British tabloids). It took Hugh Grant to keep the story alive, to expose the corruption in the heart of the British establishment or best summed up by the Daily Shows John Oliver:
the guy who got car head from a LA road prostitute is now the moral compass of the UK
So what is no one saying about the scandal? Why just the tabloids? If its so easy for them to have limitless access to the public’s phone messages why not the other groups? Some could be as “harmless” as marketing firms to more sinister entities like various nefarious criminal groups. Not to mention the government who have the means to legally hack your phone.
In Japan the Ketai (cell phone) culture revolves around instant messages or email on their phones. In Japan people don’t chat on their Ketai as talking is expensive and in public is seen as rude. While the phone hacking scandal may seem a little alien to Japanese cell phone users who rarely leave messages let alone talk on the phone we should still be alarmed as if someone can hack the messages then it is no problem to hack the messages sent on a phone. During the Sumo scandal the police supposedly seized the phones of disgraced Sumo stars and recovered incriminating messages from their phones memory but other states, like China, have the phone companies track its customers, record every message sent, or listen in on any target phone. You’d be a fool to think that anything you say or type on your phone is private from prying ears.
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