Cell­phone op­er­a­tor re­veals scale of gov’t snoop­ing

The Covington News - - WORLD -

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.

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