Vodafone is trying to put pressure on the government to allow it to disclose requests for wiretaps. Vodafone aims to follow in the footsteps of Google which has been issuing ‘transparency reports’ for a few years.
As the Guardian reports, UK regulations make even the disclosure of the existence of warrants an offence. The current Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act has cover-up built-in. Neither those requesting a warrant nor those subject to them (like Vodafone) are permitted to disclose even the existence of a request, let alone its contents.
Vodafone is to be commended for taking this stance. It is nice to hear about lobbying for the good. Their intention, apparently, is to include an analysis of information requests in their sustainability report. Crucially this would include disclosing whatever they legally can, and saying what it is that they cannot say. I would recommend going ahead with that: if the UK section turns out to say ‘nothing can be disclosed about government requests for information in the UK’ then we will at least know where the problem is…
However it is odd that there is currently no mention of this new approach on Vodafone’s website. Why is there no official announcement from Vodafone? Perhaps old habits die hard.