Feeds

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

Life in the Land of the Free

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

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 users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with 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
Turnbull: NBN won't turn your town into Silicon Valley
'People have been brainwashed to believe that their world will be changed forever if they get FTTP'
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
ISPs' post-net-neutrality world is built on 'bribes' says Tim Berners-Lee
Father of the worldwide web is extremely peeved over pay-per-packet-type plans
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.