On Friday, Vodafone released a report that revealed that several governments are using their network for surveillance and security agencies were given direct access.
Vodafone released a “Disclosure Report” on surveillance in 29 countries and six countries were listening and recording calls of consumers without the company’s knowledge. Vodafone has not named the six countries but has mentioned that Albania, Egypt, Hungary, Ireland and Qatar have direct access. The report also hinted that India and United Kingdom are using the same method of surveillance.
“In a small number of countries the law dictates that specific agencies and authorities must have direct access to an operators network, by bypassing any form of operational control over lawful interception on the part of the operator,” Vodafone said.
Vodafone chose to submit an incomplete report due to legal reasons and in turn disclosed about the legal standards regarding surveillance in countries. Ireland justified its surveillance to fight Irish Republican Army Factions and Ireland’s criminal underworld. The report also mentioned that EU countries made the most number of requests with Italy in the top. However Germany submitted its annual disclosure report in 2012 which said it made 18,026 requests to hear 23,687 calls.
Ever since Snowden’s revelations there has been growing efforts by technology companies and networks to protect the privacy of consumers. Vodafone does not operate in the U.S and does not revive any requests from the government. The United States are passing laws that will allow high-tech surveillance capabilities into wireless networks and Internet-based telephones. Privacy organisations are also concerned about the link between NSA and FBI.
Vodafone’s report was lauded by Norway’s Telenor Group which sought governments responsibility to address privacy concerns. Verizon and AT&T have also released “transparency reports” regarding data requests from the government. Verizon mentioned 320,000 requests in 2013 and AT&T with 300,000 requests in the U.S. Vodafone has mobile and broad band operations in 27 countries and has partnered with networks in 47 countries. The company has received requests from 29 countries. Developing countries like Congo, Ghana and Lesotho have not requested the technology from Vodafone.
Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple and Microsoft have been increasingly working towards encrypting emails and pushing towards greater security for preventing government surveillance. Several Silicon Valley companies released surveillance reports in a move to address the privacy concerns of consumers.
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