India demanded access to Vodafone network to intercept calls, messages and e-mails

Written by Agencies | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 7 2014, 20:25pm hrs
VodafoneIndian laws don't allow disclosure of information on interception and communications data.
India is among 29 nations that sought access to Vodafone's network to intercept calls, text messages and e-mails last year, the UK-based group said.

The company, in its Law Enforcement Disclosure report, however, did not mention the number of requests made by India as Indian laws don't allow disclosure of information on interception and communications data.

Vodafone did not say if it complied with the requests made by the Indian government.

"The report encompasses all 29 operating businesses directly controlled by Vodafone in which we have received a lawful demand for assistance from a law enforcement agency or government authority between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014," Vodafone said.

The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, obliges telecom service providers to "maintain extreme secrecy" in matters concerning lawful interception.

In addition, the IT Act, 2000, and its associated rules allow the government to prevent publication of aggregate data in relation to lawful interception and other data disclosure demands from the government and law enforcement agencies.

The company said it has not included countries in which it operates where no such demands were received.

"We have focused on the two categories of law enforcement demands which account for the overwhelming majority of all such activity: lawful interception and access to communications data," the company said.

Vodafone said though it respects the right to privacy of every customer but it also has to abide by the laws of various countries which require it to disclose information about its customers to law enforcement agencies or other government authorities.

"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," Vodafone said.

Vodafone says govts have direct access to eavesdrop in some countries

(Reuters) Vodafone, the world's second-biggest mobile phone company, said government agencies in a small number of countries in which it operates have direct access to its network, enabling them to listen in to calls.

Security agencies across the world, and in particular in the United States and Britain, have faced greater scrutiny since Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), disclosed the extent of their surveillance to newspapers.

Snowden's disclosures caused an international uproar, showing that U.S. and British agencies' monitoring programmes took in ordinary people's telephone and electronic communications.

Vodafone on Friday published a "Disclosure Report" which said that while in many of the 29 countries in which it operates, government agencies need legal notices to tap into customers' communications, there are some countries where this is not the case.

Vodafone said it could not give a full picture of all the requests it gets, because it is unlawful in several countries to disclose this information.

"In a small number of countries the law dictates that specific agencies and authorities must have direct access to an operator's network, bypassing any form of operational control over lawful interception on the part of the operator," the company said.

Vodafone has not named the countries where this can happen, but in the document it calls on governments to amend legislation so eavesdropping can only take place on legal grounds.