News that Kofi Annan and other senior UN figures may have been routinely bugged by US or British security services has caused a huge political row around the world. But it will also have caused alarm among other people in the public eye who deal with sensitive information – or anyone, indeed, who values their privacy.
If the secretary general of the United Nations cannot prevent his private conversations from being listened to by all and sundry, who can?
It seems if someone wants to listen to what you are saying badly enough, there is very little you can do to stop it.
“Technological advances, particularly in the fields of power supply and miniaturisation, mean that its now possible to bug almost anywhere and anything,” says Charles Shoebridge, a former counter-terrorism intelligence officer.
“Similar advances have enormously improved anti-bugging capabilities too, and an enormous effort has gone into making communications secure – particularly those of governments and even large commercial organisations.