Vodafone Demands Right To Publish Government Surveillance Requests

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Vodafone writes to 24 governments to ask for more freedom to be open

Vodafone wants to be able to publish the number and type of surveillance requests it receives from all governments, similar to how US companies such as AT&T, Verizon and Google are able to do so in their bi-annual transparency reports.

The UK operator has written to home secretary Teresa May and justice secretary Chris Grayling, as well as government ministers in the 24 other countries in which it operates, demanding the right to be more transparent, according to The Guardian.

British law prevents the operator from sharing even general information about wiretapping, and the only statistics on government requests for information are published by the government itself through the Communications Commissioner, who oversees the process and ensures that such warrants are issued lawfully.

Vodafone transparency report

Vodafone 4G TaxiVodafone would like to be able to publish how many requests it receives each year and whether they are for the content of communications, or the metadata, such as names, phone numbers and location.

Alongside these requests, Vodafone would publish a set of surveillance principles, which highlight its commitment to only provide information that is legally required, its adherence to international human rights standards when these conflict with domestic standards, and its willingness to challenge laws where appropriate.

Late last year, AT&T and Verizon announced plans to publish transparency reports in the wake of revelations regarding US mass surveillance programmes in documents leaked by the whisteblower Edward Snowden.

Alleged mass surveillance of Verizon customers’ telephone communications by the US National Security Agency (NSA) was one of the first revelations to emerge from the exposure of US government snooping, and the operator was keen to ensure it was protecting its customers’ information.

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