Vodafone, the world’s second-largest mobile carrier with more than 400 million customers around the world has issued its first "Law Enforcement Disclosure Report", reveals that the governments in some of the countries it operates, have direct access to its network allowing them to listen to all conversations.
The Company has broken its silence on government surveillance and after Snowden's revelations about NSA, this is the only most comprehensive transparency report ever published by an International company detailing that how some Governments are taking advantage of their laws to infiltrate citizens privacy.
Vodafone operates in 29 countries, where the government agencies need legal notices to tap into customers’ communications, but some of those countries are actually tapping directly into their network, without any need for a warrant or any explanation.
There are many countries like Albania, Egypt, Hungary, India, Malta, Qatar, Romania, South Africa and Turkey, where it's against the law to disclose whether surveillance is happening and some of them have empowered their Intelligence agencies to conduct mass surveillance legally without any warrant.
According to the report, refusal to comply with a country’s laws is not an option and unlawful, and in such situation Vodafone’s licence to operate in that territory would be at risk.
The Guardian reported that _Vodafone _is not alone, in some countries the law obliges carriers to install direct access pipes to their data centers, or at least gives governments the power to do so.
These wires are typically attached directly to the company's central data centre or the company's telecoms switches, allowing agencies to listen to or record live conversations and other electronic communications.
“In our view, it is governments - not communications operators - who hold the primary duty to provide greater transparency on the number of agency and authority demands issued to operators,” Vodafone said.
Different Government count warrants in different ways, so the company also warned that its hard to conclude about the level of surveillance in a country, 'as each warrant can target any number of different subscribers, different communications services, and devices.'
Vodafone can not reveal the identities of such countries because certain regimes could imprison its staff as a result, but Privacy campaigners have praised Vodafone and called for other companies to follow Vodafone's example.