Congress may have enacted new measures to curb the National Security Agency’s surveillance tactics, but the government still has one tried and true method to gain customer information: subpoenas.
Verizon, the largest wireless carrier in the U.S., reported on July 8 that the U.S. government issued about 150,000 requests for customer information in the first half of 2014. Of those requests, 72,432 were subpoenas, seeking information such as phone numbers, IP addresses or the numbers that users had dialed.
Verizon mentioned that most of the requests involved a small number of customers — 90 percent of the subpoenas involved three customers or less. In addition, the total number of requests sought information on just one-tenth of a percent of Verizon’s total U.S. customer base.
This release is Verizon’s second Transparency Report, a similar reveal occurred in January 2014. Following Senator Edward Markey’s revelation in December 2013 that Verizon had received more than 250,000 requests in 2013 seeking information, Verizon shareholders pushed the company to be more transparent.
“We think our current Report is even better than our first one, which we issued in January,” Verizon general counsel Randal Milch wrote in a company blog. “We’ve tried to include more data and more specificity. We hope that this Report will add to the ongoing discourse about government demands for customer data and, more generally, about privacy and public safety.”
In addition to revealing the company’s information requests, Milch also reiterated his company’s stance in supporting privacy laws to protect customer information. In his blog post, Milch referenced the company’s support for the USA Freedom Act to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as well as an amicus brief the company filed to challenge a judge’s decision that let the U.S. government obtain overseas customer data from Microsoft.
“We repeat our call for governments around the world to make public the number of demands they make for customer data from telecom and Internet companies,” Milch wrote.