Verizon Transparency Reports

By Paul Rosenzweig
Wednesday, January 22, 2014, 12:36 PM

Meanwhile, Verizon today became the first major telecommunications company to issue a transparency report about its interactions with the government when data about user activity is sought. (Prior reports have been from cloud service providers like Google and Facebook -- this time we are hearing from a broadband service provider).  The report is broken up into two parts -- one involving data about America, and the other involving international data.  No doubt the information will add fuel to the current debate.  Some highlights:

  • In 2013, Verizon received approximately 320,000 requests for customer information from federal, state or local law enforcement in the United States.  The second highest requester -- Germany, oddly enough -- made nearly 3000 requests.
  • As a matter of policy (even though it is arguable as a matter of law) Verizon will only provide stored content in response to a warrant and geo-location data in response to a warrant or court order (but not a subpoena).  [Current law appears to permit the collection of such information by subpoena -- a fact that many want to change.]
  • Verizon received between 1000 and 2000 National Security Letter requests last year [they may only report a range, not an exact figure.]
  • The report does not contain any information about FISA orders, which Verizon is prohibited from disclosing.

[CORRECTED 12:45 PM EST -- Verizon requires a warrant OR order for geo-location data, not just a warrant]