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The government asked Verizon for customer data 320,000 times last year

January 23, 2014

The Verizon building in New York December 12, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTX17GSC

Verizon released its first transparency report Wednesday detailing  the volume of government requests for customer data, which  reached well over 300,000 in 2013 alone.

The wireless giant’s numbers reveal that communications providers like  Verizon give the government vastly more data than Silicon Valley tech giants  like Apple, Microsoft or Google.

“Our Report reflects the fact that telecom providers receive more government  demands than companies in perhaps  any other industry,” Verizon said in a blog post discussing the release.  “Information about individuals’ use of their communications equipment has become  a uniquely important tool for law enforcement to protect citizens and bring  wrongdoers to justice.”

The total number of law enforcement requests for data came to 321,545,  including 6,312 for tapping and tracing communications, 1,496 to wiretap calls  specifically, and up to 2,000 secret presidentially ordered national security  letters requesting data.

According to Verizon, only about 5 percent of the data requests it received  in 2013 were for stored user content like emails, text messages, and live  wiretaps. The company also said  there were still government requests for data it was not allowed to reveal in  the report.

The number of data requests for non-U.S. customers was significantly smaller,  and only accounted for 5,392, of which almost 3,000 were for Germany alone. The  majority of the rest went to other European nations like Belgium, France, the  Netherlands and and the UK.

In the report Verizon stated there are circumstances in which it refuses  government requests for customer data, but the company did not calculate the  total number of those instances in this report.

Reports like Verizon’s come in response to the trove of National Security  Agency surveillance programs leaked by former agency contractor Edward Snowden  that began last year and are ongoing. Some of those documents indicated Verizon  and other companies were cooperating with the signals intelligence agency by  offering a ‘back door’ into their data networks.

Verizon and its counterparts have since denied the allegations, sent numerous  letters to Congress and sat in on meetings with the president requesting the  need for greater transparency about the role the companies play in government  investigations.

Verizon announced it will be releasing the report semi-annually, and that it  will continue lobbying the government for permission to release more information  about data investigation requests it receives.

CREDIT TO: Giuseppe Macri / The Daily Caller




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