[EDITORIALS]Exterminate all those bugs

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[EDITORIALS]Exterminate all those bugs

Many people are suffering from fear that their phone calls might be wiretapped. Privacy and communication security, major features of a democracy, are of great value and must be protected as much as possible. It is scandalous that our most basic constitutional rights are violated constantly.

Even more shocking is that a state intelligence agency is the culprit. It is appalling just to hear the latest allegations by Representative Chung Hyung-keun of the opposition Grand National Party about the National Intelligence Service's wiretapping of government officials. Despite strong denials by Shin Kuhn, the spy chief, many people believe Mr. Chung's allegation that Lee Keun-young, chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission, asked a senior public prosecutor to reduce the scope of investigation into the Korea Development Bank's 400 billion won ($359 million using the exchange rate at the time) loan to Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. The request reportedly was heard on a bugged line.

The opposition party's presidential candidate says he is using anti-wiretapping devices. Even senior administration officials are using several mobile phones in rotation. That means many people are feeling the threats of wiretapping. Such abnormalities must be investigated.

The spy agency has closed down its wiretapping operation. So their activities may be limited. Still, the government must use every means possible to shed light on the agency's wiretapping operations. One possible way is that legislators investigate the case with help from wiretapping experts. Of course, Mr. Chung should cooperate with the probe.

The problem is that whatever the result of the investigation may be, it is highly likely that the public suspicion will not abate. Fears about being wiretapped are so high that some people even check the underside of their dining table at restaurants. Therefore, it is worth considering setting up a permanent anti-wiretapping organization and invite experts from all fields to participate in the agency.
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