India, 28 Others Sought Access to Call Records: Vodafone

Telecom provider Vodafone revealed on Friday that 29 countries including India had sought access to its network, to intercept calls, messages and emails between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014.

In its Law Enforcement Disclosure Report, Vodafone however did not mention the number of requests made by the Indian government regarding interception, nor whether it has complied with such requests.

The report covered Vodafone's business in 29 countries in which they received a lawful demand for assistance from a law enforcement agency or government authority between the period mentioned. The highest number of requests- 605,601- was received in Italy, while Spain made 48,679 requests.

UK was granted 2,760 licenses to tap communication, and 514,608 warrants to intercept metadata.

No such statistics for India has been provided in the report. 

The company also said that in six of these countries, the government has the authority to directly access any kind of communication information without consulting the service provider. Those countries were however not named in the report.

In India, the Information Technology Act (ITA) clarifies that either the Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs or the Secretary to the Home Department or a person above the rank of Joint Secretary authorised by the respective government, may issue a written order directing an interception, depending on the situation. However, there is no judicial oversight over the interception process.

Vodafone said that although it respects its users' right to privacy, but "however, in every country in which we operate, we have to abide by the laws of those countries which require us to disclose information about our customers to law enforcement agencies or other government authorities, or to block or restrict access to certain services".

It added, "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."

Local operators in Germany and Australia are the only ones who have published their own disclosure reports before Vodafone.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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