Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) Reveals Extent of Gov’t Snooping


Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD) has revealed the extent of snooping governments from around the world are doing on its network, a report from Bloomberg reveals.

One of the biggest telecommunications companies in the whole world, Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD) made the revelation in a detailed 88-page report titled Law Enforcement Disclosure which was made from data covering a 12-month period ending in March this year. The carrier revealed that authorities in 29 countries have made requests for surveillance on its networks.

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Furthermore, aside from formal requests, Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD) revealed that there may be some unreported surveillance efforts with some countries having direct access to their networks. It said:

“In a small number of countries, agencies and authorities have direct access to communications data stored within an operator’s network. In those countries, Vodafone will not receive any form of demand for communications data access as the relevant agencies and authorities already have permanent access to customer communications via their own direct link.”

The Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD) report features a country-by-country breakdown of data it has. Data included in the report range from saying whether it cannot reveal “lawful interception or access to communications data” for the U.K. to having no technical ability to “enable lawful interception” for Tanzania.

In some cases the British multinational listed how many requests for data and communications interception requests it received. For example, the carrier revealed that it received 24,212 lawful intercept demands and 48,679 communications data demands from Spain. In the case of communications data demands, the company said that information which has been released includes metadata as well as, in some cases, “demands for other types of customer data such as name, physical address and services subscribed”. As for lawful intercept demands, the company said that it requires the network to:

“…implement capabilities in their networks to ensure they can deliver, in real time, the actual content of the communications (for example, what is being said in a phone call, or the text and attachments within an email) plus any associated data to the monitoring centre operated by an agency or authority.”

The company said that this type of snooping is “one of the most intrusive forms of law enforcement assistance.” It did say, however, that in a number of countries, authorities must obtain specific warrants for these requests.

Investors in Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD) includes John Paulson’s Paulson & Co which owned 28,520,289 shares with a value of about $1.05 billion by the end of the first quarter of the year. Another investor is Arrowstreet Capital managed by Peter Rathjens, Bruce Clarke and John Campbell which owned 8,227,003 by the end of March.

Disclosure: None

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