[EDITORIALS]Privacy excuse is no excuseThe Science Technology and Information Committee of the National Assembly failed to carry out an on-the-spot investigation of mobile phone companies to find out whether they illegally provided telephone usage summaries to the law enforcement authorities. The mobile phone companies refused to produce the logs and prevented lawmakers from accessing their offices.
It is absurd that the companies obstructed the legislators. These companies cited the Communication Privacy Protection Act to justify themselves, claiming that they have to protect the privacy of customers.
Everyone knows it’s a flimsy excuse. In the past, the companies have cooperated with the National Intelligence Service, the prosecution and the police whenever they were asked to help. Sometimes they handed over call summary reviews even without prior approval from a chief public prosecutor, which is required by the law.
It’s more likely that the companies wanted to hide evidence that would show they cooperated with law agencies’ unlawful demands.
The on-the-spot inspection of the committee is performed under the expert testimony act of the National Assembly. And the Communication Privacy Protection Act stipulates that the committee has the authority to check for illegal wiretapping.
It is shameless that the companies refused to allow such an inspection by claiming that their reviews of telephone calls are not actually wiretapping. Since many suspect that the government agencies violate the privacy of communications by randomly eavesdropping, the Assembly’s inspection is a must.
Moreover, it is suspected that wiretapping and reviews of phone call logs were used to watch journalists and politicians. There have been reports that the intelligence agency and the Blue House were at odds over the issue.
According to another source, the intelligence agency can access call summary reviews with the approval of its director under the excuse of “collecting information harmful to national security,” and some agents are known to abuse the privilege.
The Assembly must disclose the truth on such suspicions. It must also find and punish those who violate the law. Only then will the privacy of communication be protected.