Dutch telecom company KPN has been accused of tapping its subscribers' phones.
The accusation appeared on the site of the online technology magazine Webwereld. KPN (previously the national phone company, before privatisation) told investors at a presentation that it uses "Deep Packet Inspection" technology to track mobile phone users' online activity. This is most likely an offence under the Dutch data protection act.
In practice, DPI means that everything a subscriber does online is continually monitored. KPN can not only see data being sent but also look at the content and follow where it goes. Director Marco Visser told investors that KPN's mobile phone service was the "very first operator in the world" to build in this functionality and added "That's the new world we're heading towards."
Not long ago the phone company announced it wanted to increase mobile internet charges for users of certain services, such as Skype. At the time it was unclear how KPN could check who was using these services.
The Webwereld article caused a storm of protests with calls on Twitter for people to cancel their KPN subscriptions.
The Dutch digital rights movement Bits of Freedom called it a far-reaching invasion of privacy and advised KPN subscribers to report the company for phone tapping.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide