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Vodafone admits some gov'ts have direct access to network.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- Vodafone, the world's second-largest mobile phone company, has said government agencies in a small number of countries in which it operates have direct access to its network, enabling them to listen in on calls.

These countries oblige network operators to share any information through laws "designed to protect national security and public safety or to prevent or investigate crime and terrorism, and the agencies and authorities that invoke those laws insist that the information demanded from communications operators such as Vodafone is essential to their work," the company said on Friday in its first "Disclosure Report."

Security agencies across the world, particularly in the United States and Britain, have faced greater scrutiny since Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the US National Security Agency (NSA), disclosed the extent of these countries' surveillance to the media. Snowden's disclosures caused an international uproar by showing that the US and British intelligence agencies' monitoring programs had included ordinary people's telephone and electronic communications.

The report said that while in many of the 29 countries in which it operates, government agencies need legal notices to tap into customers' communications, there are some countries where this is not the case. Vodafone said it could not give a full picture of all the requests it receives, because it is unlawful in several countries to disclose this information.

"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," the company said. Vodafone has not named the countries where this can happen, but in the document it calls on governments to amend their legislation so that eavesdropping can only take place on legal grounds.

Operators in these countries have no option but to abide by those governments' demands for the divulgement of customer information and the details of their communications, the report said, adding that any refusal to comply could produce retaliatory practices such as the cancelation of licenses. "Our employees who live and work in the country concerned may also be at risk of criminal sanctions, including imprisonment. We therefore have to balance our responsibility to respect our customers' right to privacy against our legal obligation to respond to the authorities' lawful demands as well as our duty of care to our employees, recognizing throughout our broader responsibilities as a corporate citizen to protect the public and prevent harm," the company said in the report.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Jun 6, 2014
Words:436
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