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Cellphone operator reveals the scale of gov't snooping

LONDON--Vodafone, one of the world's largest cellphone companies, revealed the scope of government snooping into phone networks Friday, saying authorities in some countries are able to directly access an operator's network without seeking permission.

The company outlined the details in a report that is described as the first of its kind, covering 29 countries in which it directly operates. It gives the most comprehensive look to date on how governments monitor the communications of their citizens.

The most explosive revelation was that in a small number of countries, authorities require direct access to an operator's network — bypassing legal niceties like warrants. It did not name the countries.

"In those countries, Vodafone will not receive any form of demand for lawful interception access as the relevant agencies and authorities already have permanent access to customer communications via their own direct link," the report said.

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