Feeds

Verizon's transparency report shows more than 320,000 US data slurping orders

Life in the Land of the Free

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Verizon has published its first transparency report detailing how often governments come calling for customer records and conversations – and the results show the amount of stuff Google, Microsoft and others hand over is just a drop in the ocean by comparison.

"Our report reflects the fact that telecom providers receive more government demands than companies in perhaps any other industry," said the company in a blog post.

"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. As such, it should come as no surprise that the number of government demands directed to the major telecom providers is much greater than the number of demands directed to companies that do not offer the same communications services."

Last year the network operator received 321,545 requests for customer data from US law enforcement, including 6,312 tap-and-trace demands and 1,496 orders to wiretap subscribers' calls. In addition, the company was subject to between 1,000 and 2,000 national security letters – a presidentially issued order to hand over data, the details of which cannot be revealed.

By contrast, the total number of data investigation orders about Verizon's non-US customers came to 5,392. Germany was the top snooping nation, with 2,996 orders, followed by France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The UK asked only 386 times.

Bear in mind that the figures Verizon is disclosing just reveal the number of information requests, not the number of subscribers under surveillance. Based on the files provided by ex-NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in his first leak, just one order covers the collection of metadata for all US customers, a "request" that is still in force today. But the company said that requests for the content of calls are somewhat limited.

"The vast majority of the demands we receive are not for user content; in fact, demands for any user content – such as stored content (like text messages or emails) and content in real-time (wiretaps) – accounted for only about five percent of the total demands we received in 2013," it said.

That said, Verizon reported there were other data requests that it was not allowed to reveal, but it promised that it was working with the US government to try and add more transparency for future reports.

On Friday, President Obama said he will ease restrictions on the amount of information companies can share about what data is being slurped by the NSA and others. Verizon said that this report had benefited from the loosened restrictions but that it hoped to share more data in the future. ®

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.