Vodafone Confirms Some Governments Can Spy on its Networks with Impunity

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Vodafone has published a report that shows just how widespread government snooping of phone calls and data traffic has become.

The company confirmed in a report released today that a number of countries security services have direct pipes into its networks to eavesdrop on conversations.

The company said that while the majority of the 29 countries that it operates in, the local laws require some form of legal approval for eavesdropping, there were a small number where the security services had unfettered access to its network.

It did not name the countries, citing local legislation that prevented it from doing so, but has said that it is pressuring those countries to tighten the laws around what sort of communications could be tapped.

Vodafone said that after months of detailed analysis, it has become clear that there is, in fact, very little coherence and consistency in law and agency and authority practice, even between neighbouring EU Member States. There are also highly divergent views between governments on the most appropriate response to public demands for greater transparency, and public attitudes in response to government surveillance allegations can also vary greatly from one country to another.

For example, the report noted that Albania, Egypt, Hungary, India, Malta, Qatar, Romania, South Africa and Turkey all make it illegal to disclose any information about phone tapping actions.

They added that they think many governments could do more to ensure that the legal powers relied upon by agencies and authorities are fit for the internet age. It is lobbying for such changes to be made.

In at least 10 of the 29 countries covered, the disclosures made represent the first time that this kind of information has been placed into the public domain by a locally licensed operator.

On the web: Vodafone report

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