I’m getting tired of all the news reports that are incorrectly accusing the News of the World of “phone hacking”. For goodness sake, haven’t we already covered this? It’s both inaccurate and unhelpful. Even the BBC are doing it and they ought to know better.
It is inaccurate because the activity does not involve access to phones but to the voicemail service they connect to. As far as I can tell, no phone system has had its integrity violated during this incident, only a voicemail system. Most likely the culprit just cracked the voicemail PIN – pretty easy stuff if you know how to dial in to the service.
It is also inaccurate because the term “hacking” is not correctly applied to the violation of the integrity of systems. Hacking is a more general term indicating that a system is being used in a way that was not envisaged by its creators, and can be used both positively and negatively. The term that should be used is instead “cracking”.
It is unhelpful because huge numbers of technically skilled people routinely engage in “hacking” as a positive activity, involving innovation and problem solving. Misuse of the term only with a negative connotation diminishes the contribution these skilled individuals make to society.
The correct term for the alleged activity is “voicemail cracking”. It’s time people learned the difference.