Deutsche Telekom to follow Vodafone's intercept disclosure

More of Europe's telecoms operators may follow Vodafone's lead in disclosing surveillance requests in countries they operate.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Deutsche Telekom headquarters in Bonn, Germany. Image: Deutsche Telekom

Deutsche Telekom, Germany's largest telco, says it will release a report revealing how many surveillance requests its gets from governments around the world.

The report, when released, will be the first time Deutsche Telekom has detailed how many government requests to access its network it receives outside of Germany.

The operator last year published a report disclosing government surveillance requests for Germany, however it hasn't done the same for its other operations in Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.

A Deutsche Telekom spokeswoman was quoted by The Guardian as saying the company intends to publish "something similar to Vodafone" and is currently checking what its national companies can disclose.

A startling detail from Vodafone's first report was that in six unnamed countries in which it operates, authorities had installed direct access equipment onto the operator's network, meaning they can conduct surveillance without any oversight.

Vodafone's report links to national data where it has been previously published and disclosed its own data where national authorities approved their release; however, many countries did not permit the operator to release figures.

Vodafone's report did reveal that Italian authorities made 605,000 requests for example, but Vodafone argues those numbers provide an incomplete picture — one reason why it's against operators shouldering the burden of disclosure.

"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," it noted

Deutsche Telekom said in a statement: "What we can say for now is: Deutsche Telekom was the first German provider that has published government requests in the beginning of May, initially focusing on Germany when it comes to the disclosure. There is further information available at http://www.telekom.com/sicherheitsbehoerden.

"We are currently checking if and to which extend our national companies can disclose information. Generally, wwe provide in Germany no information to foreign authorities. Our national subsidiaries adhere in each case to the applicable local law."

Earlier this year Australia's largest carrier, Telstra, revealed that in the last six months of 2013 it had received over 40,000 government requests for customer data.

Last year US carrier AT&T reported that it had received over 300,000 demands resulting from US criminal and civil litigation.

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