According to AFP, telecommunications giant Vodafone on Friday (June 6) admitted the existence of technology that enables government agencies to listen in to conversations on its networks.
The company said the tapping is widely used in some of the 29 countries in which it operates.
Revealing its cooperation with state agencies, Vodafone said in a 20-page report entitled "Law Enforcement Disclosure" that enables agencies to listened to and recorded conversations of its subscribers.
COMMENT: Given the magnitude of government intrusion in the absence of search warrants on a global scale, I am toying with the possibility of offering a one-hour webinar tentatively entitled, "Protecting Your Privacy in an Ever-Increasing Intrusive World."
If any of our readers are interested in such a program at an individual cost of $60, please send me an email at:
Vodafone admitted that as a global business it faced "constant tension" while enforcing the laws of different countries and the "expectations" of governments.
"Refusal to comply with a country's laws is not an option," it said.
Vodafone said that in about six countries where it operates, phone tapping is required by law, although it did not identify the countries.
Vodafone said it was publishing the information as its contribution to the debate on government surveillance systems.
"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," it said.
Privacy advocates said Vodafone's disclosure confirmed their worst fears.
"It's a brave step by Vodafone (to admit it) and hopefully the other telecoms will become more brave with disclosure, but what we need is for them to be braver about fighting back against the illegal requests and the laws themselves."