Banks wait for net spying news

The Bankers Association has received no communication from the police or member banks on plans to intercept encrypted transactions over the internet.

The Bankers Association has received no communication from the police or member banks on plans to intercept encrypted transactions over the internet.

"If anything like this had been suggested to any member bank, it would have come to us," the association's acting executive director Grant Kerr said late last week.

Police last week stepped up its move to make all "public" networks interceptible in the cause of crime detection. It asked for a contribution of $1.1 million from the government to pay Vodafone for the equipment to make cellular calls on its phones interceptible. At present, they are encrypted in transit.

A device will be inserted in Vodafone's network switches at a point before the communication is encrypted, says Vodafone spokeswoman Alison Sycora. Then interception of specific calls, "or all calls from a particular number" would be allowed on Police production of a warrant.

Such devices already exist and are in use in other countries, she says. She cannot give a definite date for the implementation of interception equipment, but says Vodafone is "aiming for next financial year" - the second half of this calendar year.

Online banking and credit-card transactions, as well as many other communications on the internet, are encrypted to a similar degree to Vodafone calls. Police last week referred Computerworld's inquiries to "the person who deals with all this, and is the only one who would know". He was on leave last week.

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