End the Lie

Six governments directly listen to and record calls on Vodafone without legal notices

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By End the Lie

A Vodafone store in London, England (Image credit: kake_pugh/Flickr)

A Vodafone store in London, England (Image credit: kake_pugh/Flickr)

The second-largest mobile phone company in the world, Vodafone, revealed that six unidentified governments directly listen to and record calls on their network without legal notices.

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The company’s first transparency report, released Friday, stated that most of the countries require legal notices to tap phone calls.

“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 said, according to Reuters.

In those countries, Vodafone “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 withheld the names of the six countries for legal reasons and it could not disclose any information related to wiretapping or interception in Albania, Egypt, Hungary, India, Malta, Qatar, Romania, South Africa and Turkey. Those countries block Vodafone from disclosing any of their requests.

In addition to intercepting phone calls without a warrant, the six countries also have a direct link to costumer’s web communications, according to the BBC.

Vodafone made it very clear that they will continue to operate in countries where the governments have direct access to customer communications and that they will continue to comply.

“If we do not comply with a lawful demand for assistance, governments can remove our license to operate, preventing us from providing services to our customers,” the company said.

Interestingly, Vodafone noted just how much metadata can actually reveal about a person.

“It is possible to learn a great deal about an individual’s movements, interest and relationships from an analysis of metadata … In many countries, agencies and authorities therefore have legal powers to order operators to disclose large volumes of this kind of communications data,” Vodafone said, according to Sky News.

Vodafone also addressed the reasoning behind publishing the data.

The company said “questions have been asked about the role of communications operators such as Vodafone in support of those activities,” referring to surveillance.

BBC analyst Gordon Corera states that the report is “a sign that telecoms companies are joining internet and other tech companies in providing for more transparency in their role sitting between customers and government.”

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One Response to Six governments directly listen to and record calls on Vodafone without legal notices

  1. Jay Kenney June 6, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    Pretty soon…DYSTOPIA!


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