Verizon Sees a Drop in Customer Information Requests

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Verizon has seen a slight drop in the number of information requests that it fielded from the US government in the second half of 2014. The number of subpoenas, total orders and warrants all fell, according to the telco’s latest transparency report.

In all, requests fell from 150,000 to 140,000. Subpoenas and pen register/trap and trace orders all dropped around 10% from the first half of 2014. Warrants meanwhile fell about 12%, from 14,977 to 13,050, and wiretap order volume remained about the same.

Most of the requests (75%) were for information on a single individual; the remainder were regarding three or fewer. Most of the persons of interest were in the consumer bucket as well.

“The vast majority of these various types of demands relate to our consumer customers; we receive relatively few demands regarding our enterprise customers,” Verizon said in the report.

It didn’t say how many it had complied with—only that “we do not release customer information unless authorized by law, such as a valid law enforcement demand or an appropriate request in an emergency involving the danger of death or serious physical injury.”

On the homeland security front, Big Red said that it received between 0-999 National Security Letters during the second half of 2014, which is the same range it reported for the first half of the year. The government prohibits companies from being specific on these, and only allows them to be reported in chunks of 1,000. Also, it got between 0-999 secret orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which targeted between 3,000-3,999 customers. That number is for the first half of last year because of a government-mandated delay.

The telecom giant took the opportunity to reiterate its commitment to customer privacy.

“While much of our work to protect our customers’ privacy is done behind the scenes, in the past year we took public positions on issues of significance to our customers. We’ve opposed the United States government’s position that it could issue a search warrant to obtain customer emails stored in a Microsoft server in Ireland. We have a particular interest in this issue as we provide cloud computing and data storage services to business customers around the world, including many non-U.S. customers in data centers outside the United States,” said Craig Silliman, executive vice president and general counsel, in a statement.

He added, “Although Verizon has not received any warrants from the U.S. government for our customers’ information stored in our overseas data centers, we filed briefs in courts and worked with Senators on a bill (The LEADS Act) to help defeat this overreach by the U.S. government. We also continue to support legislation that will add privacy protections to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) statute, including ending bulk collection of communications data.”

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