Verizon Reports 150k Gov't Requests For Customer Data
The telecom says it's on track to get fewer government requests than in 2014, but it still far outpaces requests made to Google or Facebook.By Jake Godin | July 8, 2014
Ever since the Snowden leaks revealed that the U.S. government tends to be a bit overzealous in its requests for private data, transparency reports detailing those requests have become more common. Verizon released it's second such report today, and the numbers are looking better.
The report covers the first six months of 2014 and shows that Verizon received nearly 149,000 customer data requests from the government during that time. So far, that's less than half of last year's reported 320,000 requests.
In comparison, AT&T received 302,000 requests in 2013. Google and Facebook received much less, getting about 11,000 and about 13,000 requests respectively and suggesting government agencies still rely more heavily on telecom companies than internet companies for information.
The report also says Verizon received 72,000 subpoenas, 90% of which Verzion says targeted three or fewer customers. That detail is something The Washington Post says is crucial for interpreting the numbers:
"For the first time, Verizon's described (albeit in pretty general terms) the number of Americans affected by each request. ... Requests can be written broadly or tailored narrowly. Complying with a broad request means potentially disclosing information on way more than just one customer."
According to PC Magazine, the subpoena requests are usually for information such as the name and address of a customer or any other data that may appear on a subscriber's phone bill.
And ZDNet points out that top secret and classified FISA warrants weren't disclosed in the report. FISA requests come from agencies such as the FBI or NSA and can compel Verizon to intercept phone calls or provide the government with stored content.
While the government requires a six-month delay in reporting that type of information, the report did show that up to 1,000 national security letters were sent to Verizon that could have affected up to 3,000 customers.