Vodafone must give 6 govts direct access to networks

Dylan Bushell-Embling
09 Jun 2014
00:00
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Authorities in six countries are demanding direct surveillance access to Vodafone's local telecom networks, according to the operator's first Law Enforcement Disclosure Report.

The report covers Vodafone's operations in 29 countries, making it one of the first comprehensive looks at the extent of international authorities' surveillance of telecom traffic.

In the report, Vodafone states that it originally intended to write a single report covering all 29 countries as a whole.

“However, after months of detailed analysis, it has become clear that there is, in fact, very little coherence and consistency in law and agency and authority practice, even between neighbouring EU Member States,” it states. As a result, the company included a country-by-country breakdown as an appendix to the report.

In most countries, Vodafone has full control over the infrastructure used to enable lawful interception of communications, the report states. But a few countries demand direct access to an operator's network, bypassing any form of operational control.

“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 states.

The six countries are Albania, Egypt, Hungary, Ireland, Qatar and Turkey. Additionally, in India and the UK, it is currently unclear whether authorities can legally demand direct access to Vodafone's networks.

The report adds that authorities in many countries have legal powers to order operators to disclose large volumes of telecom metatdata. In some countries, authorities also have the power to demand the keys needed to decrypt encrypted communications, and non-compliance is a criminal offense.

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