20 September 2006

The Web
Business Today

Telecoms firms to pay Lm192,500 for interception costs

Matthew Vella

Telecoms operators and internet service providers (ISPs) will contribute Lm192,500 to the new legal interception that will cover the costs for the unified interception system that will assist the Malta Security Services in its eavesdropping.
The cost for the new system, EUR2 million over five years, will be shared between every telecoms provider, which will contribute to the fund in proportion to their total gross revenues from the electronic communications services they offer to the public.
Contributions will also have to be paid in record time – by not later than 30 days from the date on which the Malta Communications Authority notifies providers of their contribution.
The contributions will also be based on projected revenues for the next year, to be later reconciled with actual revenues according to audited statements.
Under previous legislation, each individual provider – mobile telephony operators and ISPs – had to provide their own equipment to the MSS. The high costs led the Malta Communications Authority to issue a tender for a unified system which will be funded by all the providers.
But the tender award has landed the MCA in court after Italian firm RCS contested the decision to award the contract to New-York based Verint, which has close links to the Israeli government and whose founder Kobi Alexander is currently on the run from US lawmen over a stock options fraud.
RCS claim the award was discriminatory, having had a cheaper offer and denied an opportunity to appeal the decision.
RCS sales director Luca Crovato has claimed in a court affidavit that a Verint upgrade sold to telephony company Go Mobile, could have served as a reason why the Malta Security Services opted for Verint, even though RCS’s offer was the cheapest.
Both the security services and Go Mobile already operate Verint’s legal interception system.
In his affidavit, Crovato expressed his surprise at being informed by the MCA that Verint had sold to Go Mobile an upgrade on their lawful interception system.
“What would have happened had the tender been awarded to RCS rather than Verint? Go Mobile would have acquired a solution that was not compatible and would have caused a problem in creating the fund necessary to pay the tender issued by MCA,” Crovato said in his affidavit.


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