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Volume 28 : Issue 5 : "text" Format

Messages in this Issue:
  Aussie telco steals country's phone numbers to keep porn trade going
  Re: Sex Offenders in Georgia Stripped of Privacy, Must Hand Over Passwords 
  Re: Sex Offenders in Georgia Stripped of Privacy, Must Hand Over Passwords 
  Sex Offenders in Georgia Stripped of Privacy, Must Hand Over Passwords 
   Re: Any user reviews of the Magic Jack?
  How to find out mobile carrier's web-to-sms gateway address?
  The True Story of the Telephone 

====== 27 years of TELECOM Digest -- Founded August 21, 1981 ======
Telecom and VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) Digest for the
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and the name of our lawyer, and other stuff of interest.

Date: 05 Jan 2009 21:25:25 GMT
From: David Clayton <>
Subject: Aussie telco steals country's phone numbers to keep porn trade   going
Message-ID: <49627ac4$0$28510$>

Dial S-E-X for Optus
Vanda Carson | January 5, 2009 - 6:43AM

The Optus "facilities maintenance centre" on the corner of Epsom Road and 
Dalmery Avenue in Rosebery looks like any other large glass-fronted 
commercial office building in the Sydney industrial hub.

Unlike its former flagship headquarters in North Sydney topped with a 
neon sign proclaiming its residence, the Rosebery building is barely 

Passers-by would never have suspected it was the base for the nation's 
second biggest telco's lucrative sideline as the middleman in the 
international porn video and phone-sex trade. It is a business a NSW 
Supreme Court judge described as a "commercial goldmine", bringing in $45 
million in profit over three years until the middle of 2001.

One Optus staffer boasted in 2000 that the company was generating $100 
million in revenues from faceless phone sex operations.

It was a handy earner for Optus, which prefers to portray itself as a 
family friendly telco and uses cuddly cartoon animals in its advertising. 
Naturally it wanted this shady side of its business to remain behind 
closed doors.

But its part in the billion-dollar phone sex industry has been laid bare 
in the courts in a series of legal wrangles over the past eight years 
over Optus's behaviour in Sydney, where Optus's Australian business is 
based, and in Vanuatu.

Only now can the full story of Optus's involvement be told, with the last 
of the legal cases finalised.

The lawsuits were triggered by a falling out between Optus and its 
pornography partners and other telcos that teamed up to profit from a 
loophole in international telecommunications rules.

The scheme allowed the telcos to bill customers premium rates for 
sexually explicit calls or X-rated downloads when they dialled the 
country codes of small, often impoverished and far-away places. Optus was 
part of the partnership of telcos which acted as gatekeepers in the porn 
trade between the US and Europe and small Pacific islands.

Pacific nations were chosen because of their high call rates and because 
US laws restrict obscene phone messages. Optus profited because the call 
charge paid by customers was divided between it and its telco partners 
and the porn-broker.

The most recent legal case, decided on November 27, also forced Optus to 
concede it had stolen 100 numbers from a tiny telecommunications carrier 
in Vanuatu and then allowed a pair of its pornographer partners, Global 
Internet Billing in Britain and MDC in Europe, to use the stolen numbers 
for their business.

Optus then kept the proceeds of these calls, money which would have 
normally been payable to the Vanuatu carrier.

The theft of the numbers from Telecom Vanuatu came after the Vanuatu 
Government tried to shut another of its porn partners, the Gibraltar-
based Gilsan, out of the dial-up industry in 1999, ostensibly because it 
endangered the morals and reputation of the island nation.

Gilsan's exclusion from the Vanuatu market was the trigger for a lawsuit 
in Vanuatu and three other cases in Sydney.

They exposed the cut-throat competition in this lucrative but little-
known part of the global telecommunications industry between 1998 and 

John Bragg, who headed the Optus division responsible for dial-up porn, 
described the division's role as identifying "new and innovative non-
traditional business opportunities on an international level".

It went to great lengths to keep hold of the business, deciding the risk 
to its reputation of allowing Gilsan and its rival Global Internet 
Billing to keep their videos and voice recordings in Optus centres was 
worth it for the comfort of knowing it would make it harder for them to 
take their money to a rival telecommunications carrier.

It even had the nous to charge Gilsan and Global Internet Billing a 2-3c 
surcharge on each minute of their $US6 ($8.45) a minute X-rated calls - 
or about $800,000 in rent - for housing their porn-filled computer 
servers in the Rosebery building.

The legal challenges exposed the commercial practices of the Optus senior 
executive in charge of its international phone calls and relationships 
with all foreign telecommunications carriers.

Justice Patricia Bergin found Mr Bragg, who has since died, arranged the 
theft of the Telecom Vanuatu numbers.

She found he "was adept in utilising business opportunities and loopholes 
to increase the profits for his employer, wherever it was possible to do 
so. "Indeed his candour about his rather underhand conduct was quite 
disarming," Justice Bergin said.

In an earlier case, Justice Robert McDougall was much harsher with Bragg, 
saying he had no regard for the truth, except for when it suited him. In 
this case Optus was forced to pay millions to Gilsan after it was found 
to have skimmed money from Gilsan by under-reporting the number of 
minutes porn clients were on the phone so Optus could take home a larger 
share of the profits.

It was almost routine for telcos to try to increase their profits by 
hoodwinking each other about how many minutes of traffic they had used, 
according to evidence presented to the court. Most of the telcos, 
including the US giant AT&T and Optus, were underdeclaring the number of 
minutes of traffic they had carried for each other.

One Optus staffer said Optus standard practice was to declare only 99 per 
cent of its traffic. On one occasion Optus only told AT&T about 98.3 per 
cent of the minutes it had used, under-reporting by 396,542 minutes.

It also short-changed the Greek national carrier, telling it of only 97 
per cent of calls.

Advertisements were placed in US and European magazines and websites 
urging customers to dial a number starting with the country code 678 (for 
Vanuatu), or that of other Pacific island nations, for phone sex.

But the Pacific nations were used just like flags of convenience because 
the calls never reached the Pacific nations; instead AT&T in the US or 
Greek carrier Hellenic sent the calls to the Optus centre in Rosebery 
where callers either downloaded porn from computers in the Optus centre, 
or were transferred to an MDC (Europe)-owned centre in Kippax Street, 
Surry Hills, or to a call centre in New Zealand where staff simulated sex 
over the phone.

Pornographers and telcos chose to use the dialling codes of Vanuatu and 
other poor small Pacific countries because it allowed them to charge 
customers high call rates. They were also preferable because the risky 
call content is less regulated than it would be if clients were dialling 
a number in the US, Europe or Australia.

In return for the thousands of incoming international calls, each paying 
a high rate, the small Pacific island telcos were willing to share a 
portion of the call rate with the telco-porn company partners.

US customers, who made up more than 90 per cent of calls, paid a hefty 
$US4 a minute to connect to Vanuatu.

And it was profitable for each of the players because phone sex customers 
tend to stay on the phone longer than those making other kinds of phone 
calls. For each call, the Vanuatu carrier got about US10c a minute, and 
Optus got at least US25c a minute.

Vanuatu was also preferred because it had an easy to remember 
international dialling code, 678.

The two pornography companies involved in the legal cases - the 
mysterious Gilsan and Asia Pacific Telecommunications, based in Hong Kong 
- used country codes of at least six Pacific nations in their 
advertisements for phone sex.

Gilsan used Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, while APT used Vanuatu, 
Niue, Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Cook Islands.

The traffic was so great that in 1996 Niue was ranked the second biggest 
provider of phone sex services in the world, according to a Washington-
based telco market research firm, Telegeography. And APT's business was 
so lucrative for the island of Tuvalu that at one stage payments 
reputedly made up three-quarters of its GDP.

Vanuatu was happy to have the money coming in but wanted to keep the 
exact nature of the business quiet. The advertisements in US and European 
magazines and websites did not mention Vanuatu, and they asked that they 
be drafted to have the number read 67-87 rather than 678, which is more 
obviously recognised as its country code.

And it was not just a business done in the Pacific. X-rated calls from 
the US were a boom industry in Guyana, the Caribbean, the Philippines, 
Moldova, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Poland and the Dutch Antilles 
islands in the mid-1990s.

Gilsan and APT offered slightly different products.

APT was first on the scene in Vanuatu in 1996, offering "live chats" with 
New Zealand phone-sex operators, and Gilsan started up two years later 
and ultimately used the phone calls to allow customers to download 
graphic sex photographs and videos from material held on computers in 
Optus's Rosebery centre.

Global Internet Billing and MDC (Europe) started in 1999 using the stolen 
numbers and a similar product to Gilsan. It offered its calls to 
customers in Italy, South Korea and the US. APT sold calls to customers 
in the US, Italy and the Philippines, while Gilsan sold to the US, Italy, 
Greece and Turkey.

Ultimately Gilsan's download service became far more popular than the 
traditional "chat" service offered by APT.

Between January 1999 and February 2001 Optus carried nearly 23 million 
minutes of traffic for Gilsan, worth about $US5 million. Its smaller 
rival MDC (Europe) carried 226,000 minutes of traffic in 2000-01.

Optus made about $US6 million in profit from Gilsan and about $US6 
million from APT between 1998 and 2001, as well as about $US3 million a 
year from a smaller contract with MDC/Global Internet Billing, helping 
increase its total profits to about $US45 million.

An Optus staffer, Samantha Bicknell, said Optus was so keen to keep the 
pornography business and reduce the risk of the pornographers defecting 
to another telco that it decided to allow them to install their video and 
audio material in Optus's centre.

"We have encouraged our customer [sic] to install all of their network 
facilities in Australia in the Optus [centre]," Ms Bicknell emailed a 
colleague in August 2000.

"This allows Optus to hold the customer at 'ransom' so to speak so that 
all their infrastructure is in our control and therefore [sic] [they] 
must use us as their transit point".

"Encouraging the installation of customer equipment is a win-win 
situation for both Optus and the customer," she said. "My team look 
after . . . premium rate/sex lines etc, and we collect a transit fee for 
our services. The team attributes over $100 million of revenue to the 

The business flourished because customers preferred to be billed by 
telephone rather than credit card, both because it is easier to claim a 
large international phone bill as a work expense or to explain it to a 
suspicious partner than it is to justify a suspicious item on a credit 
card bill.

The business thrived between 1998 and 2001, but halted almost overnight 
in 2001 when the American Federal Communications Commission changed the 
law so it was not nearly as lucrative.

Instead of dividing $US4 a minute between the telco and its porn 
partners, they were now left with just US48c a minute to divide between 

Given that more than 90 per cent of the traffic was from the US, it was 
no longer commercially viable.

After three extensive legal cases and a lengthy appeal, it now appears 
the end of the road of this messy episode for Optus, although Telecom 
Vanuatu may yet appeal against Justice Bergin's decision handed down in 

Telecom Vanuatu's Sydney law firm, Marque Lawyers, said it was unable to 
comment on the case because litigation was continuing and the findings 
might yet be appealed against.

An Optus spokeswoman declined to answer questions about the theft of 
phone numbers from Telecom Vanuatu.

In a statement, Optus said Telecom Vanuatu had failed to have the court 
order that Optus pay for the money earned from using the stolen numbers.


Date: Sun, 4 Jan 2009 23:45:55 -0500
From: "MC" <>
Subject: Re: Sex Offenders in Georgia Stripped of Privacy, Must Hand     Over Passwords 
Message-ID: <lag8l.2791$>

"Gordon Burditt" <> wrote in message 
>>The latest scuffle over online privacy is brewing up in Georgia.  An
>>aggressive new law is set to take effect today which will force sex
>>offenders to hand over their internet passwords, screen names, and
>>e-mail addresses to the government for monitoring purposes.  Several
> Online providers need to strictly enforce their terms of service on
> this matter: you're not allowed to give out your password to someone
> else, and if you do, [they are supposed to] turn off the account.

Worse than that.  Georgia has a law against computer password disclosure. 
So we have a genuine conflict of laws.


Date: 05 Jan 2009 06:00:15 GMT
From: David Clayton <>
Subject: Re: Sex Offenders in Georgia Stripped of Privacy, Must Hand     Over Passwords 
Message-ID: <4961a1ef$0$28520$>

On Sun, 04 Jan 2009 23:14:10 -0500, Gordon Burditt wrote:

>>Privacy advocates concerned about a strict new law in Georgia which
>>removes sex offender's online privacy
>>The latest scuffle over online privacy is brewing up in Georgia.  An
>>aggressive new law is set to take effect today which will force sex
>>offenders to hand over their internet passwords, screen names, and
>>e-mail addresses to the government for monitoring purposes.  Several
> Online providers need to strictly enforce their terms of service on this
> matter: you're not allowed to give out your password to someone else,
> and if you do, [they are supposed to] turn off the account.

And of course it is ultimately self-defeating. Expecting anyone who is 
supposed to be (potentially) breaking one serious law to somehow obey 
another law like this is ludicrous.

Does anybody seriously expect this to do anything but give the public 
(yet another) undeserved sense of security?

Why don't they just pass another law to outlaw all crime in general, 
that'll send a message to the crims and make us safe........

Regards, David.

David Clayton
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Knowledge is a measure of how many answers you have, intelligence is a
measure of how many questions you have.


Date: Sun, 4 Jan 2009 22:47:40 -0600 (CST)
From: John Mayson <>
Subject: Sex Offenders in Georgia Stripped of Privacy, Must Hand Over Passwords 
Message-ID: <alpine.OSX.2.00.0901042246270.411@Calculus.local>

On Sat, Jan 3, 2009 at 11:51 PM, Monty Solomon <> wrote:
> Privacy advocates concerned about a strict new law in Georgia which
> removes sex offender's online privacy

Another law that's "for the children" and will make people feel safer, but 
does absolutely nothing.

> The latest scuffle over online privacy is brewing up in Georgia.  An
> aggressive new law is set to take effect today which will force sex
> offenders to hand over their internet passwords, screen names, and
> e-mail addresses to the government for monitoring purposes.  Several

And this won't work at all since it'd mindlessly simple to create new
email addresses, screen names, etc.  Let's face it.  Sex offenders who
play by the rules will comply with this law.  Those who are still a
menace to society won't and there's not a whole lot the state can do
about it.  I really wonder if state legislators even understand the
laws they pass.

> ***** Moderator's Note *****
> Hold on to your hats: this is the start of a wild ride up and down the
> roller coaster of public-opinion. It is a classic case of a Camel's
> nose under the edge of the shelter that covers our all-important civil
> right to keep our papers and effects free from unreasonable search and
> seizure.
> Sex offenders? No problem: most voters will say "f*&^ 'em, who cares?".
> Convicted fellons of all stripes? Rerun previous tape.
> Persons charged with crimes but not yet convicted? Hmmm.

Normally I try to stay on topic, but since you started it.  :-)

There are two terms that are guaranteed to generate a knee-jerk
reaction: "sex offender" and "child pornography".  The masses think we
should just burn these people at the stake without any further
investigation or even proof of guilt.  And no one is interested in
what these people did in the first place.

> Once the apparatus needed to monitor someone who <insert your least
> palatable, most loathsome, and repulsive action here>, IT WILL BE USED
> FOR OTHER PURPOSES. Be careful what you wish for: security and freedom
> both have a price.

I'm reminded of the famous poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller "First They
Came..."  Granted, a
sex offender is hardly on par with a trade unionist.  But we have
broadly applied labels to people and demonized them.

In some jurisdictions public urination can lead to sex offender
This is absolutely wrong and draconian.  But few are willing to speak

We have a friend who is a sex offender.  What happened was he was young. 
And drunk.  She was barely underage and didn't disclose this. He ended up 
spending seven years in prison and his life today is a living hell.  The 
girl is considered a "victim" even though had she just been a few months 
older it would've been completely legal.  How was society protected by 
locking this guy up?  His neighbors avoid him.  He can't attend functions 
at his child's school.  He can't even pick her up from school when she's 

I can't say this happens a lot.  But too many times I see plastered
across the front page of the newspaper about an Internet kiddie porn
ring being broken up or someone arrested for molesting a child and
then months later on page B17 there's a blurb that all the charges
were dropped.  Does this happen 10% of the time?  90%?  I don't know.
But in either case the accused is ruined.  Were the charges dropped on
a technicality?  Or was it your average person sitting at his computer
and next thing he knows he's in jail?

I get really worried when the state starts to demonize groups of people.


John Mayson <>
Austin, Texas, USA


Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2009 06:59:52 -0700
From: "Fred Atkinson" <>
Subject:  Re: Any user reviews of the Magic Jack?
Message-ID: <00c001c96f3d$e1daf080$0200650a@mishmash>

> Magic Jack is [a] good product: we have now had ours for 1 year.

    It sounds good.  However, I don't like the idea of having a device that
ties up my computer when it could be a separate device on my home network.

    Has Magic Jack thought of selling a stand-alone device that would take an
IP address from your home/office router and do the same thing [without tying
up the resources on your home/office computer]?  It could use their network
and achieve the same end.  I'd gladly pay a bit more for the device up front
to get the twenty dollar per year rate for service.




Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2009 12:06:15 -0800 (PST)
From: steven acer <>
Subject: How to find out mobile carrier's web-to-sms gateway address?
Message-ID: <>

Is there anyway to find the e-mail to SMS gateway a mobile carrier
uses to route email as SMS messages? I am talking about any carrier: I
found some lists on the internet, but they don't cover all the countries.

If I can send sms messages from a web interface my carrier provides
this means that this carrier has a gateway of the ones I am talking
about.  I need a way to find these addresses regardless of the carrier
and the country.


Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2009 15:19:58 -0800 (PST)
From: Joseph Singer <>
Subject: The True Story of the Telephone 
Message-ID: <>

I grew up in Highland Park, Illinois, just down the street from where
the telephone was invented. I now live in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
just down the street from where it was allegedly stolen. Seth
Shulman's recent book The Telephone Gambit lays out the clearest case
yet of how it all happened. Here's the summary:

Alexander Graham Bell (or Aleck Bell, as he was then called) was the
son of Alexander Melville Bell, the inventor of a system of phonic
notation called Visible Speech. The elder Bell would use Aleck as an
assistant in his demonstrations: After sending Aleck to wait in
another room, Mr. Bell would ask the audience for a word or strange
noise then write it in Visible Speech. Aleck would return and
reproduce the sound from the writing alone. Voila.

As a child growing up like this, he played at inventing machines that
could talk and telegraphs that could listen. But he found his career
in tutoring the deaf -- by teaching them to pronounce the phonemes of
Visible Speech, he eventually succeeded in teaching them to talk and
read lips.

One of his students was Mabel Hubbard, daughter of prominent Boston
lawyer Gardiner Greene Hubbard. Son of a Massachusetts Supreme Court
Justice, Hubbard established water and gas and trolley utilities for
Cambridge, Mass. -- some of the first in the nation. He also fervently
lobbied Congress to replace Western Union's monopoly on the telegraph
with a new corporation, the US Postal Telegraph Company, that would
contract with the government Post Office.

At the time, telegraph wires blanketed the skies of Boston, hanging in
a dense web above the buildings. Many desperately wished for someone
to develop a telegraph that could send multiple messages over the same
wire, so that many wires could be replaced with just one. The theory
was that if one could transmit the messages using different tones,
they would "harmonize" instead of interfere, leading the idea to be
called the "harmonic telegraph". Naturally, Alexander Graham Bell
turned his tinkering to this problem and persuaded Hubbard (as well as
Thomas Sanders, another father of a Bell student) to finance his
research in exchange for a share of any future US profits. Further
complicating matters, Bell had fallen in love with his student, Mabel
Hubbard. Mr. Hubbard made it clear he did not approve of such a
marriage unless Bell made a profitable discovery.

The rest here:



TELECOM Digest is an electronic journal devoted mostly to telecomm-
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The Telecom Digest is currently being moderated by Bill Horne while
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