Law Enforcement Disclosure Report
Millions of customers trust Telia Company to provide telecommunications services. They trust Telia Company to protect their communications, data and personal information. We publish Law Enforcement Disclosure Reports to contribute to an open and transparent world where customer privacy and freedom of expression are at the forefront.
Q&A about Telia Company’s Law Enforcement Disclosure Report
Why is Telia Company publishing these reports?
Telia Company and its local subsidiaries – like all telecommunications companies – are obliged by laws in the countries within which we operate to assist authorities for purposes such as enforcing criminal law. We are only to disclose customer information in accordance with the law.
By publishing these Law Enforcement Disclosure Reports we want to make sure that our customers have access to information about that, and to what extent, government authorities have the power to access data based on law and that Telia Company, according to our policies and procedures, protects customers. Our instruction includes to provide data to authorities only if and to the extent required to do so. Our reports also point out and link to legislation which render the governments in most of our markets direct access to our systems and networks. And we provide links to national laws on mandatory data retention for law enforcement purposes.
We encourage governments to be transparent themselves about their use and scope of surveillance of communications. Telia Company’s advocacy is based on our Group Policy on Freedom of Expression and Privacy, available here.
Do you ever challenge a request?
At Telia Company, requests from law enforcement authorities are handled by specially set up units that have been trained to handle such requests according to processes in place. All requests from authorities must be legally correct. Telia Company is to reject or challenge any request that does not conform to the established form and process, for example when a form has not been signed or has not been sent by an authorized sender. In such cases, the process is for Telia Company to ask for clarification. As to unconventional government requests, according to our Group Policy, we have committed to and determined how to pursue a point-of-challenge when our customers’ freedom of expression and/or privacy is at risk. This implies that we are to make careful assessments of all unconventional requests and demands that may have serious impacts on freedom of expression or privacy, adhering to the local law while at the same time seeking and performing measures to respect and support the rights of our users. A strict escalation procedure for internal decision-making has been put in place for adherence to the policy. Formal decisions on the extent of compliance or push-back following problematic requests or demands are not to be made at local company level alone, unless there are exceptional reasons.
Why do the figures differ between countries?
Several factors make it difficult to compare the statistics between countries. Telia Company has different market-shares in different countries, which likely is reflected in the figures. Telia Company does not have knowledge of local authorities’ working methods and priorities in different countries, but the methods are likely to differ. It is also important to note that the figures show the number of requests from authorities, not the number of individuals concerned. Not even we as the operator and provider of the information have this knowledge. The number of requests is most likely larger than the number of individuals concerned.
Does Telia Company make money on this?
No. Local legislation often prescribes that the operators must finance the system setup and that the authority has to compensate for every single request (cost-based).
How might these reports be used?
Telia Company’s aim is to make it transparent to users and stakeholders to what extent governments’ access customer data. Our Law Enforcement Disclosure Reports aim to provide a clearer picture of the norms governing surveillance. The reports might therefore be useful in research and advocacy. We also encourage governments to be transparent about their use and scope of surveillance of communications.
How does Telia Company enforce its Policy and internal instruction and processes in this context?
Our commitment to freedom of expression and privacy is included in relevant employee training, and also in our whistle-blowing mechanism (the Telia Company ‘Speak-Up Line’). The Policy implementation is based on our internal oversight and accountability model.
Does Telia Company have a grievance mechanism in place, open for grievances regarding freedom of expression and surveillance privacy?
Yes. Telia Company’s grievance mechanism, our ‘Speak-Up Line’, is applicable and available here.
Does Telia Company inform its users when their data has been revealed to authorities?
No. It is generally defined by legislation if and when the requesting authority shall inform the user about the surveillance conducted by the authority.
Latest Law Enforcement Disclosure Report
Telia Company Law Enforcement Disclosure Report January to December 2021 (Published March 2022)
We believe that transparency on surveillance activities can contribute to a world where customer privacy and freedom of expression are more strongly enforced. Therefore we publish law enforcement disclosure reports twice per year.
The most recent report, released alongside the Annual and Sustainability Report, includes statistics covering day-to-day conventional requests from the police and other authorities in nine countries. It also contains numbers and context regarding unconventional requests ('major events'). The statistics is subject to limited assurance by Deloitte.
Our law enforcement disclosure report includes links to national laws that provide governments with direct access to information about our customers and their communication, without having to request information from Telia Company.