Spying on the Mighty

The giggle of a story with nasty bits at the center is the Daily News’ report on a Dolce & Gabanna PR maven who confessed to NYPD that she’d used spyware to intercept a NYC socialite’s voicemail.  Reports the News: “Ali Wise, well-known on the party circuit and director of entertainment public relations for Dolce & Gabbana, was arrested Tuesday after confessing to cops that she had bought computer spyware to sneak into interior designer Nina Freudenberger‘s voice mail, police sources and court records said.”  We think perhaps Ms Wise saw too many James Bond flicks.

But the bigger news is that Scotland Yard has opened inquiries into allegations that journalists working for Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids used illicit means to hack into cellphone messages of public figures, reports the Guardian. (This of course gives new meaning to the word “hack.”)  Giggles aside, the unnerving part of the story is that, apparently, Murdoch’s entities paid out over $1.6 million to buy the silence of those whose phones were hacked.  Exactly how many were victims remains unclear.  Reports the Guardian: “The suppressed legal cases are linked to the jailing in January 2007 of a News of the World reporter, Clive Goodman, for hacking into the mobile phones of three royal staff, an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. At the time, News International said it knew of no other journalist who was involved in hacking phones and that Goodman had acted without their knowledge.

But one senior source at the Met told the Guardian that during the Goodman inquiry, officers found evidence of News Group staff using private investigators who hacked into ‘thousands’ of mobile phones. Another source with direct knowledge of the police findings put the figure at ‘two or three thousand’ mobiles. They suggest that MPs from all three parties and cabinet ministers, including former deputy prime minister John Prescott and former culture secretary Tessa Jowell, were among the targets.”

Yikes.

That is an astonishing scandal that underlines just how threadbare our privacy is.

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