Vodafone reveals shocking mass tapping by Government of Malta

I read with incredulity an article on The Guardian which said that Malta is one of the most spied on countries in Europe according to recent data made public by Vodafone.

If you were worried about what the word privacy meant as a consequence of Snowden’s leak then this will have you ditch your mobile phone line and start using otter applications on your smart phone which let you make calls over VoiP.

What is most worrying is that Malta is one of the states (together with Albania, Egypt, Hungary, India, Qatar, Romania, South Africa and Turkey) who said that it would be unlawful to disclose any kind of information regarding the content which was intercepted or wiretapped over the mobile network.

According to data by the Malta Communications Authority, by the beginning of 2013, Vodafone had a market share of 50.38%. During the same year the total number of mobile subscribers stood at 539,452, meaning that Vodafone’s subscriber base is around 271,776.

Of these 3,773 were wiretapped or intercepted in 2013, or to put it in simpler terms 1.4% – which leads itself to the question – do we have so many criminals in Malta or is there something else going on?

Vodafone malta spying

Per percentage of the population Malta was only surpassed by Italy in the these numbers, however, since the Mafia in Italy need a lot of policing this is understandable. But whereas all this information is disclosed by the Italian Government in Parliament, in Malta, the Government said it was unlawful to disclose information of how and what kind of content was intercepted.

This data is only available for half of the population of Malta and we still have no idea what kind of information Go and Melita provide to the government. The way this information is being provided to the Government is cause for concern but what is most worrying is the lack of transparency of how this is being done.

The Government has a lot to answer for one question is pertinent – Why is at least 1.4% of half the population of Malta being spied on?

High selfie esteem?

The term selfie is suddenly on everybody’s lips – stessu if you want to go for the awesome Maltese version. It was all started by Ira Losco expressing her concerns, followed up by a few sexual videos shared as revenge porn and picked up by everybody else who has been living under a rock for the past half a decade (selfies are so 2012).

Now it seems to have also been picked up by Social Dialogue Minister, Helena Dalli, who decided to collect some karma points on such a pressing matter. I am sure the Minister does not mean any harm but, in truth, a pressing matter it is not and reading the full page article on The Times today about how the Minister wants to make the sharing of explicit selfies illegal I felt compelled to follow it up with a blog.

image source: The Mirror

Animal selfies are way cuter! image source: The Mirror

In the meantime another blogger beat me to it, mirroring much of my sentiment. Read J’accuse for a clear explanation encompassing the issue of selfies and the law.

As J’accuse explains “you don’t need consent to publish a selfie because technically the only person who publishes a selfie is the same person who took it.” And as J’accuse explains this is not about being pedantic because if you are in possession of someone else’s explicit selfie, and you publish it, then you are already doing something illegal.

But what about all the distress this causes to the people involved I hear you say. And that is where my point comes in. In today’s society people do not think of consequences, and more importantly, people should come to accept a certain amount of responsibility which comes with our digital freedoms.

You have every right to take sexy photos of yourself but do yourself a favor and think of what might happen once these leave your phone.

There should be no need for a Minister to call press conferences and say that her Ministry is looking into making the sharing of selfies illegal, firstly, because the argument is already flawed as pointed out by J’accuse but also because I don’t need my government to protect me from myself. So for everybody’s sake, I hope no more time is wasted on this matter.

You don’t want your unflattering pictures to make the rounds on the internet? Then DO NOT SHARE them.

Melahart is now on Bloglovin

Follow my blog with Bloglovin – about time right? I’ve finally awoken from my slumber and got around to setting up my profile on the amazing Bloglovin.

With the impending doom known as the discontinuation of Google Reader, Bloglovin is a great alternative to follow the blogs you love and also find new ones. When you sign up, you also have the option to import all your Google Reader RSS feeds. The process is painless and is done in a minute or two. Whilst there are other alternatives to Google Reader, such as Digg Reader, I suggest you give Bloglovin a try, you really won’t regret it.

So now I can calmly reclaim my status as Social Media Harlot. You can find melahart on most social media networks and here goes the full list;



and of course…


Find your next treasure on Reuse.com.mt

I am a hardcore recycler so I was pretty excited about this new initiative by WasteServ. Reuse.com.mt was launched just a few days ago but it’s already gathering a lot of interest.

The concept is simple. You have something you don’t want? Instead of throwing it away you can advertise it on this website and give it away for free. Very simple, and environmentally friendly.

Couple reuse.com.mt with Pinterest and you have a sure win formula. One item available on the website? Pallets… And look what you can do with Pallets.

1) Shelves










2) Coffee table










3) More shelves










Reuse.com.mt, Pinterest; for turning junk into awesome stuff, we thank you!

Scoop! Joseph Muscat’s new job in PR

It is no secret that I am an avid social media harlot, and these past few months I have been keeping an eye out on how politics are being played out in the social media sphere locally. You might want to read my take on how the three main parties are using Twitter and who is winning the election in 142 characters, or maybe you would like to take a look at twitter comments which were posted after the resignation of Richard Cachia Caruana as Permanent Representative.

Social media is my passion and after so many years of dabbling within it I do have some tips and tricks. So here is one for whoever is taking care of Joseph Muscat’s Twitter page; DO NOT RETWEET ADVERTS.

There you go, it’s been announced here first; Joseph Muscat is doing MANGANO’s PR. What is your take on this? And most importantly, what would Kurt Calleja have looked like without Mangano?

ACTA in Malta part 2

Things have changed since I wrote my first post about ACTA, I now know it’s not as evil as I thought.

As soon as I started participating in the debates about ACTA online I wanted to get as much information as possible about it so I read and read and read. Unfortunately there is so much information about ACTA on the internet that you end up not knowing what or who to believe. All I wanted, and still want in fact, is answers, however I’m very sceptic about the answers that have suddenly started cropping up. Just today, this appeared on timesofmalta.com. 

The link takes you to a very basic HTML page with 10 facts about ACTA. The page seems to address the accusations which appeared in a video some time ago on youtube, but completely disregards the concerns and questions many of us still have.

Having said that, I still think this is positive – meaning someone out there is at least listening.

What I cannot stand is the continuous politicizing of the matter on social networks. From the start I was adamant that such an issue shouldn’t be another argument towards elections. Unfortunately, ACTA is being used for this;

Not only do these people show how much they care about ACTA, but they also show how much they care about current affairs. Check out who the current Finance Minister in Malta is…

What do Joseph Muscat and Barack Obama have in common?

Good question right? Well, they have more in common then you might actually think. First off both Joseph Muscat and Barack Obama are married and have two kids, true story.

Secondly, they also both have that fabulous winning smile…

And they apparently also have a similar wardrobe. Look at them donning an almost identical blue stripy tie.

Now I know I’ve already convinced you that Joseph Muscat must be from the same batch of plasticine the divine being carved Obama out of, but there is one extra similarity. This to me is actually fool proof. Look at the bio on their Twitter accounts.

Astonishing, isn’t it? 

ACTA in Malta

As the rest of us frenzied on Franco Debono and the no confidence vote, something eerie was going on, something which will effect how each and every one of us will be able to use the internet – ACTA.

On Thursday, Malta together with the other European member states approved an international copyright agreement treaty called Acta (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). ACTA is disguised as an agreement which will safeguard intellectual property rights. The truth however, is that such laws on copyright are already in place. ACTA will curb freedom of expression, endanger your communication privacy and restrict your civil and digital rights. With this agreement, copyright holders will be able to bypass the court system and go directly to your internet service provider.

This means, no trial, no representation.

So while a couple of weeks ago we were patting ourselves in the back because Malta had just revamped its censorship laws, we completely missed the bandwagon on this. Want to stay organized locally? Groups, pages and events have already been set up on Facebook.

Protest against ACTA – https://www.facebook.com/events/372841852732565/

Malta Anti-ACTA group – http://www.facebook.com/groups/284478734946368/285495728178002/?notif_t=group_activity

via the San Francisco Examiner

Read more about ACTA here; http://youranonnews.tumblr.com/post/16257654698/acta-in-a-nutshell-what-is-acta-acta-is-the


More action can be taken by whoever disagrees with ACTA can do so officially by sending the following email to the following individuals that represent you. These of course are Maltese MEP’s so if you’re not a maltese citizen simply find the MEP’s representing you and send then an e-mail –

Please note that Simon Busuttil and David Casa had voted against looking into the major concerns with regards to ACTA. 


>What’s ‘next’ for Next-Gen?

>Article published on the Technology Supplement on The Sunday Times on the 9th of April 2009

It’s been over two years since the start of the seventh generation gaming console war and from the latest figures, Nintendo’s Wii is the clear winner, leaving Sony’s PS3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 fighting for second place. The Wii’s innovative features and capabilities have been the reason for such a success, but with such a ground breaking console comes the inevitable question; what’s next?

Foreseeing what the eighth generation era of gaming consoles has in store and what companies like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have already started working upon is a tricky task. The only sure thing is that the next generation consoles are going to be even faster and flashier than the current ones. Companies like Microsoft and Sony are not going to abandon their hardcore gamers who always want better graphics, better speeds and a more realistic virtual life. No matter how successful the Nintendo Wii is right now, there is considerable doubt whether Microsoft and Sony will ever give up on their powerful machines, take a step backward and completely rewrite their gaming consoles. Even though Microsoft have not reached their peak in Europe and Asia, America is a very lucrative market, where they have a regime of faithful followers, while it would be uncanny for Sony to surrender to Microsoft and give up their coveted ‘producer of the most powerful consoles’ title.

It is possible that both Microsoft and Sony will enhance their controllers to include motion sensing, similar to the Wii Remote. Sony’s PS3 controllers already feature some motion sensing controllers, but they are rarely used in games and this is due to the fact the feature is not as well developed and accurate as Nintendo’s. As regards to Nintendo, there is speculation about the Wii Remote having a double motion sensor for better accuracy. Needless to say true motion sensing would be practicable in a hands free environment where the sensor is able to pick up any of the player’s movements and translate them to the console.
In the near future, video game consoles might also be the only piece of equipment in the living room together with the TV. The Playstation Network on the PS3 is already echoing such features with the ability to download demos, high definition films (currently limited to US customers) and game add-ons together with the ability to communicate with friends through voice or text, not to mention that the PS3 already has an integrated Blu-Ray and DVD player, together with an internet browser. TV and radio streaming will probably be the subsequent step for the next generation consoles. There is also the possibility of making cinema theatres obsolete thanks to the advancements of high definition and large screen HD TVs that mimic the cinema going experience and which are becoming more affordable as time goes by.
As music artists are already offering their albums for free online whilst earning money mostly from concerts there is also a lucrative market when it comes to getting revenue through subsidies with consoles. Digital rights management on a console is better handled than on PCs and bands like Metallica are already putting their latest album on the PS3 Network available for download as playable content for Guitar Hero. Aerosmith even went as far as releasing a full game on Guitar Hero, and with the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchise increasing in popularity, especially with the recent launch of the World Tour series more artists might go down this path.
One of the major changes between the PS3 and Xbox360 from their predecessor is probably the amount of hard disk space. Since downloadable content is becoming more popular with customers, and players are also downloading full games online. This not only means that games might be offered completely online but it also means that a user will need a massive hard disk for all the downloaded content. Cloud computing might be the answer to this dilemma as with a cloud computing approach, the games ( or movies or music for that matter) won’t be stored on your console’s memory or even on a shelf, but in a remote, virtual hard drive that you can access over a broadband connection. The advantages of cloud computing are plenty as a console would be cheaper to build, software patches would be easily downloadable while the games are offline and maybe games would even decrease in cost since there is no physical production costs. Obviously cloud computing is only possible if there is a high speed internet connection, and here comes the problematic dilemma; no internet connection, no games to play.
Of course this is just speculation as it is hard to forecast without the knowledge or any indication of where technology is going. It is possible that another company might try its hands at producing a games console and it would be interesting to see which path they would follow; the bigger, better, faster, Playstation and Xbox path or the alternative gaming experience Nintendo gave to its customers with the Wii.