One of the world’s largest mobile phone companies has detailed the existence of secret government eves dropping while calling an end to warrantless wiretaps, a practice that at one point would have landed government officials in trouble if not jail.

Vodafone

Vodafone blows the whistle in 88 page document outlining government spying methodologies

In a bold move, Vodafone Group Plc (NASDAQ:VOD) (LON:VOD) issued an 88 page PDF document revealing details of how warrantless surveillance is taking place in all the regions in which they operate and then their group privacy officer, Stephen Deadman, demanded an end to warrantless access to Vodafone’s systems by governments.

The Vodafone PDF, at 40,000 words, is the most comprehensive review of how governments monitor the conversations and track movements of their people to date, according to a report in the Guardian.  US phone providers and technology firms have provided little, if any, information on how governments use their firms to track their conversations and movements.

The PDF reviews the 29 countries Vodafone Group Plc (NASDAQ:VOD) (LON:VOD) operates in and reveals that governments are given direct access to the system and can monitor communications at will.  “We are making a call to end direct access as a means of government agencies obtaining people’s communication data. Without an official warrant, there is no external visibility,” Deadman said in a report.

Demands on government to provide transparency

Vodafone is demanding governments, many of whom proclaim to operate in a transparent environment, provide real transparency in regards to warrantless wire taps. Acknowledging “tensions” between protecting a citizen’s right to privacy and the duty of the state to ensure public safety and security, Vodafone Group Plc (NASDAQ:VOD) (LON:VOD) thinks citizens should be better informed, calling certain actions “lawfulness” into question.

“Those tensions have been heightened as a consequence of the allegations made by the former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden,” a Vodafone statement read. “Media reports of widespread government surveillance and data ‘harvesting’ by intelligence agencies have triggered a significant public debate about the transparency, proportionality and legitimacy – even lawfulness – of the alleged activities of a number of high-profile agencies.”

Government should provide transparency, says Vodafone

Vodafone Group Plc (NASDAQ:VOD) (LON:VOD) also said it should be the governments, not cellular service providers, who should be providing the transparency. “In our view, it is governments – not communications operators – who hold the primary duty to provide greater transparency on the number of agency and authority demands issued to operators.”

Vodafone noted their difficulty. Either they cooperate with local security forces or their business is shut down. “Refusal to comply with a country’s laws is not an option. If we do not comply with a lawful demand for assistance, governments can remove our licence to operate, preventing us from providing services to our customers.”

The Vodafone Group Plc (NASDAQ:VOD) (LON:VOD) disclosure and demands regarding eliminating warrantless wiretaps are bold, but do people really understand the issue?