An article in the Greek newspaper “Eleftherotypia”on 11 May 2011, covers a worrying trend in surveillance practices of the Greek anti-terrorist squad since 2007. In multiple occasions the police has “lifted” the confidentiality of communications legal provisions, and has requested information about communications taking place within a whole region, for a window of time up to 12 hours. For example:

  • On 31-12-2008 they requested data for 3 hours (4am-7am) for a region of Athens, covering the polytechnic school (that is also covered by special privileges / asylum when it comes to freedom of speech) following an attack on a riot police van.
  • On 9-3-2009 a large region in Koukaki was targeted for 12 hours. (Map of two first regions:
  • Traffic data were collected for whole regions on 12-5-2009, 9-3-2009 (for 90 minutes), 25-11-2009, 18-2-2009 and 7-5-2007.

The article mentions telecommunications (voice and sms) in the first two cases (that might include content), while only mentioning traffic data for the last cases. Furthermore it points out that the selection of time, regions and targets and processing of the information collected happens in an unaccountable manner by officers. The blanket lifting of confidentiality is done under provisions for “state security”, but the article further points out, has now become routine. These practices are also linked with the Data Retention Directive (2006), that has not yet been translated into Greek law, making the legal context for surveillance requests and providers uncertain.

(Original in Greek: “Είμαστε όλοι ύποπτοι…” by ΧΡΗΣΤΟΣ ΖΕΡΒΑΣ) 

This comes as a surprise to me, since I always through that the criteria applied for conducting surveillance have to be tied to a network endpoint, or at least a person’s identity.