Vodafone allowing unlimited state snooping
Vodafone has said that a number of governments enjoy direct access to communications on its network.
In some countries police have a direct link to customer's phone calls and web communications and no warrant to intercept communications is needed.
In its first-ever transparency report, Vodafone said that in a small number of countries, it "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 also breaks down lawful intercept requests and communications data requests for the 29 countries in which Vodafone operates.
Nine governments already publish this information. The UK government made 2,760 interception requests and 514, 608 communications data requests to all mobile phone operators in 2013.
By comparison, Italy made 139,962 interception requests in total and 605,601 communications requests to Vodafone alone. In the US, telecommunications company Verizon has said that it received 321,545 requests for customer information.
In Albania, Egypt, Hungary, India, Malta, Qatar, Romania, South Africa and Turkey, it is unlawful to disclose any information related to wiretapping or interception of the content of phone calls and messages including whether such capabilities exist.
In six out of the 29 countries in which the company operates, governments have a permanent link to monitor communications.
Human rights campaign organisation Liberty called the government powers "terrifying".
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, told the BBC: "For governments to access phone calls at the flick of a switch is unprecedented and terrifying.
The Vodafone group's privacy officer, Stephen Deadman, told the Guardian: "These pipes exist, the direct access model exists."
He added, "We are making a call to end direct access as a means of government agencies obtaining people's communication data. Without an official warrant, there is no external visibility. If we receive a demand we can push back against the agency. The fact that a government has to issue a piece of paper is an important constraint on how powers are used."
Read more about Vodafone in our guide to mobile phone networks.
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