Vodafone says many governments have direct access to its networks

The report details the different procedures, legal frameworks and governance principles employed by countries to tap into Vodafone's networks.
By Ananth Baliga  |  June 6, 2014 at 12:59 PM
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LONDON, June 6 (UPI) -- The world's second largest telecommunications company, Vodafone, said several governments are directly accessing their networks to eavesdrop on citizens.

The company released its first Law Enforcement Disclosure report that shows that governments have backdoor access to its networks without needing to obtain a warrant. The report details the operating procedures for different countries, where some indulge in lawful wiretapping and others have direct access without needing a warrant.

"In a small number of countries the law dictates that specific agencies and authorities must have direct access to an operator's network, bypassing any form of operational control over lawful interception on the part of the operator," Vodafone's report said.

Vodafone did not identify individual countries who had direct access but said that in certain countries the company "will not receive any form of demand for lawful interception access as the relevant agencies and authorities already have permanent access to customer communications via their own direct link."

The company had received thousands of requests from 29 countries to intercept or obtain data about conversations. Vodafone did not list out the individual requests saying that in at least nine countries -- Albania, Egypt, Hungary, India, Malta, Qatar, Romania, South Africa, and Turkey -- it was illegal to disclose wiretapping activities.

But its did provide overall figure for requests it had received. Italy topped the list with 600,000 requests for metadata, while the Czech Republic submitted 7,600 requests and Tanzania submitted 99,000 requests for communications data.

Vodafone said that since every country had different ways of disclosing such information "it is not possible to draw any meaningful conclusions from a comparison of one country's statistical information with that disclosed for another."

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