Joining many in the Internet industry that have taken the step in response to consumer concerns about privacy and government agencies' information requests, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) today became the first telecommunications company to release a Transparency Report detailing the number of formal information requests it received in 2013. The report includes data for both U.S. and international government agency requests.
Internationally, German agencies made nearly 3,000 "Law Enforcement Demands for Data," according to Verizon, easily topping the list of requests from foreign organizations. Agencies in France made 1,347 information requests of Verizon in 2013, followed by Belgium at a distant third with 473 inquiries.
Verizon also reported that several countries, including Colombia and Greece, asked to have websites blocked that were suspected of illegal or illicit activities, including child pornography and online gambling, which Verizon complied with. No such requests were made by U.S. government agencies, according to Verizon.
In the U.S., Verizon received more than 321,000 requests for customer data from government agencies last year, including approximately 16,000 requests to either release stored customer information or use a wiretap, including 14,500 warrants for stored content and 1,500 wiretap orders. Verizon said it only releases stored customer data like text messages or email with a valid warrant. Approximately 164,000 of the information requests Verizon received in the U.S. last year were via subpoena which Verizon says it is "required by law" to comply with, though subpoenas are not as demanding as warrants.
Approximately 50,000 of the 321,545 information requests Verizon received from U.S. agencies in 2013 were related to requests for customer information because of an alleged imminent threat or danger, Verizon said, which doesn't include the "tens of millions" of 911 calls it handles annually. Verizon said such "emergency requests are made in response to active violent crimes, bomb threats, hostage situations, kidnappings and fugitive scenarios, often presenting life-threatening situations."