Vodafone, the second largest telecommunications company in the world, has revealed that government agencies have installed wires in their system that allow them to listen and track the calls of customers.

The Guardian reported in the early hours of the morning that the telecom company, which operates in 29 countries, had been connected with wires “connected directly to its network and those of other telecoms groups, allowing agencies to listen to or record live conversations and, in certain cases, track the whereabouts of a customer.”

In six countries that Vodafone operates in, the law either obliges telecom companies to install direct access wires or allows governments to do so. As such, these countries make it unlawful to disclose that their governments are accessing Vodafone’s system for surveillance purposes – therefore, the telecom company has not stated which countries have been wire tapping.

“I never thought the telcos [telecommunications companies] would be so complicit,” said Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International. “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.”

Vodafone will release a Law Enforcement Disclosure Report on Friday in an attempt to break the silence on government surveillance and fight against the widespread use of phone and broadband wire-tapping. At 40,000 words, this will be one of the most comprehensive surveys of how governments are monitoring the conversations and locations of their citizens.

Read more on the Guardian

(Image Credit: Vodafone)

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