updated 12:58 pm EST, Wed January 22, 2014
Carrier receives over 1K national security letters
Amid increased scrutiny over privacy regulations, Verizon has released its first transparency report detailing the number and type of government requests for customer data. The carrier was asked to respond to over 320,000 requests from federal, state or local law-enforcement agencies in the US during 2013. Notably, nearly 1,500 of the requests resulted in wiretaps and between 1,000 and 2,000 National Security Letters were included in the numbers.
National Security Letters, issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, focus on customer data that the government believes is relevant to national security concerns. Verizon notes that the FBI can only access data such as name, address and billing records through NSLs, while location or content information must be requested through formal warrants or other means. The carrier is not permitted to disclose the specific number of NSLs, though the government allows a broad range to be cited in the transparency statistics.
The company received approximately 35,000 demands for location data, split between 24,000 general orders and 11,000 warrants. Interestingly, 3,200 of the requests were for "cell tower dumps" that demand a list of all phone numbers that connected to a certain tower at a given time.
"The number of warrants and orders for location information are increasing each year," the company says. "Last week, President Obama announced that telecommunications providers will be permitted to make public more information in the future; we encourage greater transparency and, if permitted, will make those additional disclosures."
Verizon plans to continue releasing transparency reports on a semi-annual basis.