As explained in the 'Agency and authority powers: the legal context' section earlier in this report, Vodafone’s global business consists largely of a group of separate subsidiary companies, each of which operates under the terms of a licence or other authorisation issued by the government of the country in which the subsidiary is located, and each of which is subject to the domestic laws of that country.
In this section of the report, we provide a country-by-country insight into the nature of the local legal regime governing law enforcement assistance, together with an indication of the volume of each country’s agency and authority demands, wherever that information is available and publication is not prohibited. In addition, a summary of some of the most relevant legal powers in each of our countries of operation can be found in our legal annexe. Note that Vodafone no longer operates in Fiji; this country is therefore no longer included in this section of the report.
As we explain in the 'Who should publish: governments or operators?' section of this report, this remains a difficult section to compile. There is still no established model to follow: few international telecommunications operators have published a country-by-country report of this kind and very few have done so on the basis of data gathered by the local licensed telecommunications operator. Additionally, there are no standardised methods for categorising the type and volume of agency and authority demands: different governments, parliaments, regulators, agencies and authorities apply a variety of definitions when authorising or recording the types of demands outlined earlier in this report, in the Agency and authority powers: the legal context section, as do operators themselves when receiving and recording those demands.
Over the last year, we have sought to engage with a number of governments, agencies and operators to explore options for a more consistent and meaningful approach to statistical recording and public disclosure which would enable a greater level of overall transparency. While there was some progress in some areas, on the whole it has proven to be very difficult to persuade others of the case for changes which would bring a higher level of coherence to any statistical analysis of the data presented in this report. Updates on our efforts to enhance transparency in individual countries can be found in the relevant country reports.
How we prepared this report
Each of our local operating businesses has a nominated Disclosure Officer responsible for the management and administration of law enforcement assistance in response to a demand. The information collated and published here (wherever available and wherever publication has not been prohibited) has been overseen by the relevant Disclosure Officer. As explained earlier in this report, in the Security and secrecy: the limits on what local licensed operators can disclose section, only local Vodafone employees with a high level of government security clearance will ever be made aware of specific lawful demands issued by agencies and authorities and even then will not typically be made aware of the context of any demand.
Although the details of individual demands remain highly confidential and cannot be communicated, Vodafone’s internal auditors conduct regular reviews of the overarching processes and policies that are in place to ensure the integrity of our law enforcement disclosure systems. However, it is not possible for the external assurers of the Vodafone Group Sustainability report, EY, to provide any form of independent verification of the statistical information published in this section for the reasons stated above.
For the two categories of agency and authority demand reported here - lawful interception and communications data (as explained earlier in this report, in the agency and authority powers: the legal context) - we have robust processes in place to manage and track each demand and to gather statistical information on aggregate volumes.
It should be noted that, while the statistics for communications data demands are overwhelmingly related to communications metadata, the statistics we report also include demands for other types of customer data such as name, physical address and services subscribed. Our reporting systems do not necessarily distinguish between the types of data contained in a demand, and in some countries a single demand can cover several different types of data.
Our global internal review which analysed, on a country-by-country basis, the extent to which we can lawfully publish aggregate volumes of law enforcement assistance demands at a local level, remains relevant with no changes to note.
As was the case in the 2014 report, we have also published a legal annexe. In compiling this annexe, we instructed the law firm Hogan Lovells to provide us with objective and independent advice which was then verified by our legal teams in each of our operating country businesses1. The legal annexe was updated and republished in February 2015 to include new information focused on network blocking and censorship, including the:
- shut down of network or communication services;
- blocking of access to URLs and domains; and
- powers enabling agencies and authorities to take control of a telecommunications network.
As we noted in our 2014 report, it remains the case that in some countries there is a lack of legal clarity regarding disclosure of the aggregate number of law enforcement demands. Where this continued to be the case in 2015, we have, once again, sought to engage with governments to ask for guidance wherever this was practicable in light of the potential risks to our employees.
In a small number of countries where the government does publish statistics but where there remain concerns regarding the methodology used in recording and/or reporting this information, we summarise the discussions undertaken to try to enhance transparency in the relevant country section. Further information about our approach under those circumstances is set out earlier in this report.
Some governments responded to our requests for guidance: their views are summarised in the relevant country section in this section of the report. Others continued to decline to reply to our enquiries altogether or have made it known to us that they remain reluctant to provide any indication of their perspectives. Where this is the case, we have taken a precautionary approach to protect our employees.
Finally, in countries experiencing continuing periods of significant political tension, it remains challenging to ask any questions related to national security and criminal investigation matters - however seemingly innocuous - without potentially putting Vodafone employees at risk of harassment or criminal sanction.
Explanation of the information presented
In each country and for each of the two categories of law enforcement demands issued, there are a number of different outcomes arising from our enquiries.
Wherever there are no restrictions preventing publication and there are no alternative sources of information indicating total demand volumes across all operators in the country as a whole, we have published the data available from our own local operating business indicating the cumulative number of demands received by Vodafone during the period under review. However, we have noted our concerns about the considerable shortcomings inherent to this approach, as explained earlier in this report, in the 'who should publish: governments or operators?' section.
One year on from our first report, it is even clearer to us than was the case in 2014 that in those countries where the government publishes certain statistical information and individual operators also publish some of the statistics held for their own operations, the net effect is more confusing - and in statistical terms, irreconcilable and contradictory than if the governments involved played a greater role in enabling the provision of consistent and comprehensive metrics spanning the industry as a whole.
In countries where these statistical anomalies arise, we will continue to engage with other operators, industry, authorities, and at a ministerial level to press for greater consistency and enhanced transparency in governmental disclosures. We will continue our efforts in this regard and will update the country sections of this report in future if there are any relevant developments.
It is also important to emphasise that attempts to compare one country’s metrics with those of another are essentially meaningless given the very wide variations between legal frameworks, recording methodologies and reporting regimes. There are no consistent points of common reference that could be used to underpin such analysis. Similarly, in many cases it is difficult to draw accurate conclusions from year-on-year changes in reported metrics within a country as these can be influenced by a range of factors - such as amendments to legislation or new laws, developments in agency or authority practice or changes to the approach used to log, aggregate and disclose lawful demands - which may not in themselves provide a reliable indication of actual trends in law enforcement activity.
There are five circumstances under which we have not published Vodafone's own statistical information for a specific country, as set out below.
1. Vodafone disclosure unlawful
The law prohibits disclosure of the aggregate demand information held by Vodafone as well as any disclosure related to the mechanisms used to enable agency and authority access, as explained earlier in this report. This is particularly the case in matters related to national security. Wherever this is the case, we cite the relevant law that restricts us from disclosure, either in the main text or in the legal annexe.
2. No technical implementation of lawful interception
In some countries, there is no legal provision for implementation or we have not been required to implement the technical requirements necessary to enable lawful interception and therefore have not received any agency or authority demands for lawful interception assistance. This includes circumstances under which lawful interception powers exist under the law but the technical arrangements to conduct this have not been mandated.
3. Unable to obtain guidance
The law on disclosure is unclear and we have been unable to engage with the government or a relevant agency or authority to discuss options for publication during a period of political tension and consequent risk to our employees.
4. Cannot disclose
Although local laws do not expressly prohibit disclosure, the authorities have told us directly that we cannot disclose this information.
5. Government/other public body publishes
In a number of countries, the government, parliament or a credible independent public body such as a regulator already publishes statistical information for certain types of demand issued to all operators in that country. Wherever this is the case, we provide a link to the information available online. In some countries – and where relevant – we also provide additional commentary on the status of that third-party information. Our views on disclosure of relevant information by governments rather than by operators are summarised earlier in this report.
Vodafone is grateful to Hogan Lovells for its assistance in collating the legal advice underpinning this report including the country-by-country legal annexe. However, in doing so, Hogan Lovells has acted solely as legal adviser to Vodafone. This report may not be relied upon as legal advice by any other person, and neither Vodafone nor Hogan Lovells accept any responsibility or liability (whether arising in tort (including negligence), contract or otherwise) to any other person in relation to this report or its contents or any reliance which any other person may place upon it.
|Albania||Type of demand|
|Law interception||Communications data|
|Vodafone disclosure unlawful (1)||5,695 (2)|
|It is unlawful to disclose any aspect of how lawful interception is conducted.|
|Prior to the 2014 report, the legal position was unclear regarding whether or not it would be lawful for Vodafone to disclose statistics related to agency and authority communications data demands. We asked the authorities for guidance and were informed that we could disclose this information in the 2014 report. There has been no change to the guidance since that report: we have therefore updated this statistic with the latest information we hold for our own local operating business.|
|For a summary of the most important legal powers relating to law enforcement demands on a country-by-country basis , see our Law enforcement legal powers country-by-country annexe.|