Vodafone is one of the largest mobile phone companies in the world and they have just dropped some serious information on the public: secret wires have been used to listen to Vodafone conversations in 29 countries. The wires were used by government agencies, allowing them direct access to listen in to any conversation in Europe and beyond, without a warrant.
Government surveillance of phone lines has been a point of contention in the United States with the NSA for some time, but now it is a worldwide issue. Vodafone is pushing back against the surveillance, publishing a Law Enforcement Disclosure Report. It is the most comprehensive report of how governments monitor phone conversations available today, going through every nation affected in detail.
Here's the country by country breakdown:
Privacy campaigners have called this information from Vodafone a "nightmare scenario." Beyond allowing governments to listen and record the conversations, it also allowed them to track the location of the Vodafone customer who they were listening to.
In some countries, this is actually completely legal, because "the law either obliges telecoms operators to install direct access pipes, or allows governments to do so." Vodafone has not yet named those nations, but considering how quickly surveillance cases can snowball, we might hear from some very cranky wiretapping countries soon.