Cellphone operator reveals scale of gov’t snooping
LONDON (AP) — Government snooping into phone networks is extensive worldwide, one of the world’s largest cellphone companies revealed Friday, saying that several countries demand direct access to its networks without warrant or prior notice.
The detailed report from Vodafone, which covers the 29 countries in which it operates in Europe, Africa and Asia, provides the most comprehensive look to date at how governments monitor mobile phone communications. It amounts to a call for a debate on the issue as businesses increasingly worry about being seen as worthy of trust.
The most explosive revelation was that in six countries, authorities require immediate access to an operator’s network — bypassing legal niceties like warrants. It did not name the countries for legal reasons and to safeguard employees working there.
“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 report said.
Vodafone’s report comes one year after former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden revealed that U.S. and other countries’ intelligence agencies routinely gathered huge amounts of private data belonging to millions of innocent people in America and across the globe.
The revelations have focused particular attention on the role of Western technology and telecommunications firms, which stand accused of facilitating the mass surveillance by giving spies unrestricted access to their networks. Several Silicon Valley companies have since attempted to restore consumers’ trust by publishing data on government surveillance.