We know that the government is watching us all the time, listening in on our phone calls, and scanning our text messages and web history. Some of our representatives in the government have tried to take a stand against this unwarranted monitoring. Most have simply followed along; content to allow our lives to be under a constant microscope in the name of “security.” Vodafone has been front and center in the surveillance issues that have been uncovered by Edward Snowden and other leaks. Vodafone is trying to be more transparent in their dealings with their subscribers. In the process, they may end up in some legal hot water over their actions.
The company published a 40,000 word report detailing how and when various government agencies have accessed their network to spy on us. Vodafone is one of the largest wireless carriers in the world, and their report details how governments from 29 countries have used secret wires to gain access to our data. These secret wires are connected directly to Vodafone’s network and the network of other telecom providers. The wires allow for the listening and live-recording of our conversations, and even allow government agencies to track our location. The wires are being used by countries in Europe and other countries where Vodafone operates its network.
In some countries, it’s illegal to release any information government wiretapping or even to admit that such surveillance technology even exists. In at least six countries where Vodafone operates, the law requires that they install secret wires themselves, or at least that they allow the government to install wires to listen in on subscribers. Gus Hosein of Privacy International says, “These are the nightmare scenarios that we were imagining. I never thought the telcos would be so complicit. It’s a brave step by Vodafone and hopefully the other telcos 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.”
We commend Vodafone for finally coming forward with this information. We hope other companies do the same, and we hope we can put an end to this garbage.