Vodafone reveals government eavesdropping in some countries

UK mobile operator Vodafone has today reported that government agencies in some countries where it operates have direct access to its network.

Vodafone operates in 29 countries worldwide, and its "Disclosure Report" said that although in most of these countries government agencies need legal confirmation to tap into customer communications, there are countries where this is not the case.

Unsolicited tapping of Vodafone’s network means its customers could be victim to government spying, but the operator did not name the countries where this can happen.

“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.

Vodafone said it is calling upon these countries to amend legislation in order that eavesdropping can only occur on legal grounds.

Network security has been of growing concern to operator and consumer alike following Edward Snowden’s disclosure of the extent to government surveillance last year, as well as reports a year ago today that the NSA was collecting data from US operator Verizon’s network.

"For governments to access phone calls at the flick of a switch is unprecedented and terrifying," said Shami Chakrabarti, director at UK human rights organisation Liberty. "Snowden revealed the internet was already treated as fair game. Bluster that all is well is wearing pretty thin – our analogue laws need a digital overhaul."

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