Now That Vodafone Has Come Out With A Real Transparency Report, Will US Telcos Follow Suit?
from the of-course-not dept
On Friday, we reported the surprising fact that Vodafone had not just followed the latest trend in issuing a transparency report, but actually flat out admitted that many governments had direct access to its phone lines, which allowed those governments to listen in on calls without a warrant. That level of transparency is great, because all too often with the “transparency” reports we’ve seen from some companies, they seem more focused on hiding what’s really going on. Too frequently, this is because of requirements from the government, which has (almost certainly illegal and unconstitutional) gag orders on what companies are allowed to say about requests for government information. However, it’s almost certainly also because companies are now afraid of admitting the kinds of things they’ve allowed governments to do in secret — and are worried about how the public would respond.
However, I’m hopeful that Vodafone’s decision to just step up and admit the level of access that governments have had will lead other companies to “come clean” on the sins of their past, and how they’ve given governments way too much access. Rather than have it leak by a whistleblower, to have the companies step up and admit to exactly what’s gone on, while at the same time calling for a change in laws and policies (as Vodafone did) might actually help to restore some confidence that these companies aren’t just happily handing over access, but are willing to publicize what’s happening and also fight back against the excesses as well.
In the US, for example, it was a remarkable struggle just to get the big telcos to finally agree to issue transparency reports — and when those transparency reports were released, they were remarkably opaque, rather than transparent. Such a transparency report does little to build confidence in what’s happening, and actually breeds greater distrust. Coming clean, saying what’s really going on, and how the telcos plan to move forward, seems like the only real way to rebuild any semblance of trust.