Vodafone, a UK-centric telecom, told Channel 4 that they are "shocked and surprised" to hear that the NSA and GCHQ have been intercepting the presumably secure communications likely sent by their own customers.
"What you're describing sounds concerning to us because the regime that we are required to comply with is very clear and we will only disclose information to governments where we are legally compelled to do so, won't go beyond the law and comply with due process," the company's chief privacy officer told Channel 4.
"But what you're describing is something that sounds as if that's been circumvented. And for us as a business this is anathema because our whole business is founded on protecting privacy as a fundamental imperative," the rep continued.
According to Channel 4's White, British law mandates that agents at the GCHQ obtain permission before requesting information from UK telecoms. Since call data is collected and stored by the NSA, however, British agents would instead simply submit a request with their American counterparts. That type of arrangement, White added, is not covered by any law in the UK.
British attorney Alex Bailin told White that this gives way to an "enormous loophole" that removes any and all restrictions.
Ahead of Friday's address from the Justice Department headquarters in Washington, DC, it's been reported that Pres. Obama will announce new limits on the NSA's bulk metadata collection program as well as previously disclosed operations shared by Mr. Snowden in which foreign persons were revealed to be targeted by the US intelligence community.
"The entire mission of our intelligence agencies is to collect foreign intelligence without regard to the civil liberties of the targets against whom we're collecting," one former senior intelligence official told the Washington Post this week ahead of the president's remarks.