Deutsche Telekom follows Vodafone by disclosing communication interception data

Deutsche Telekom revealed German security agencies requested nearly 50,000 phone line intercepts in 2013, in a move that came less than a week after Vodafone caused a stir by revealing similar data relating to its global operations.

The German incumbent received 49,796 requests for line intercepts during 2013, 436,331 calls for access to data traffic records, 28,162 requests relating to subscriber master data, and a whopping 946,641 queries on IP address owners.

A Deutsche Telekom statement revealed it plans to publish data on security agency interceptions annually, and stressed the company only supplies the details if they comply with German privacy laws.

"Under specific circumstances, Deutsche Telekom is legally obligated to provide information to the security authorities and to enable interception measures," the company stated, adding that it ensures such requests "are processed strictly in accordance with the law."

The company assigns two staff to handle each interception request "each of whom monitors the other", and documents each "individual process step" so the company's actions can be inspected by "the Security Officer and the Federal Network Agency."

Deutsche Telekom also noted it does not respond to "inquiries from authorities outside of Germany," which must be put to the company "via the relevant German authority."

Vodafone sparked fresh debate on privacy last week, when it revealed that governments in six of its 29 global markets can intercept communications without the operator's knowledge. The company explained the access is a requirement of local laws, but stopped short of naming the six countries for fear of reprisals against local staff.

The subject of interception has become a hot potato following claims of widespread snooping by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK's GCHQ by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, on Thursday said the government has failed to clearly explain why interception of communications is essential to the nation's security, and that she plans to reintroduce a bill that would safeguard the powers of police and security services to tap individuals' communications data in the future, The Guardian reported.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, blocked May's first attempt to introduce the legislation, the newspaper added.

For more:
- see the Deutsche Telekom disclosure
- read The Guardian article

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