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Telephone monitoring decreases

The Korea Communications Commission announced Friday that the total number of interceptions of telephone calls and online messages by government agencies dropped more than 20 percent in the first six months of 2011 compared to last year, but interceptions by military authorities more than tripled.

According to data released by the state telecommunications regulator, the number of interceptions granted to government agencies was 444 in January-June, down 24.6 percent from 589 cases recorded in the same period last year.

Government agencies can seek permission from a court to listen in on telephone conversations or read online messages ― such as e-mails and private postings ― of individuals under investigation.

Interceptions by the National Intelligence Service dropped to 316 cases from 480 cases last year, but those by military agencies such as the Defense Ministry and the Defense Security Command increased to 29 cases in the first half of this year, up from nine cases last year.

The prosecution was granted two interceptions, the same number as last year.
The police’s figure was 97, down one from last year.

By Cho Ji-hyun (