Vodafone, one of the world’s largest cellphone companies, has revealed the scope of government snooping into phone networks, saying authorities in some countries are able to directly access an operator’s network without seeking permission.
The company outlined the details in a report on Friday covering 29 countries in Europe, Africa and Asia in which it directly operates, and providing the most comprehensive look to date on how governments monitor mobile phone communications of their citizens.
Amongst other revelations, the report said that authorities require direct access to an operator’s network in a small number of countries, bypassing legal procedures like acquiring warrants. It did not name the countries.
“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.
“The need for governments to balance their duty to protect the state and its citizens against their duty to protect individual privacy is now the focus of a significant global public debate,” the company said in the report. “We hope that… disclosures in this report will help inform that debate.”