Verizon’s Transparency Report: Almost 150,000 Data Requests From Government
Verizon Wireless has officially published its Transparency Report for the first six months of this year, and it basically shows that the number one leading wireless carrier in the United States continues to receive loads of requests for its customer information across the country.
For the first half of 2015, Verizon revealed that it got 149,810 requests on customer data. That number has definitely increased compared to the 148,903 requests it received during the same period in the previous year. Out of the 149,810, more than 69,500 consist of subpoenas from law enforcement. As for court orders like wiretaps and trap-and-trace, they make 37,230 of the total data requests. Almost 28,000 data requests were emergency requests from law enforcement to have quick access to user phone information, up from the 24,257 that Verizon received during the first six months of 2014.
Transparency reports are nothing new to tech companies, especially now that various civil liberties organizations, shareholder and consumer advocates are constantly bearing on companies to be more transparent about when they disclose customer data. Of course, Verizon Wireless is not the only company releasing transparency reports -- others like Google, Microsoft, and even rival wireless carriers like AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile also released their own transparency reports.
Most of the data requests from law enforcement typically do not involve business customers. These requests mainly focus on certain individuals with suspected ties to criminal activities, or are involved in ongoing investigations.
Interestingly, companies that receive data requests from law enforcement often have a say in whether they should comply or not. Of course, subpoenas are the only exception, but with other data requests, carriers such as Verizon can always refuse to give away information.
But when companies do refuse to share data, they often run the risk of being labeled as a business entity that has something to hide, rather than one that is merely protecting its information. For some, releasing a transparency report regularly allows them the opportunity to make a visible effort in showing to the public that they are indeed being transparent with regards to when they share customer data. With recent customer privacy controversies, sometimes a simple thing such as releasing a transparency report can go a long way in reassuring some of the customers’ minds.
Another wireless carrier, T-Mobile, also released a transparency report early this month. T-Mobile got almost 360,000 government data requests in 2014, which is the most that any wireless carrier in the US has gotten.