Verizon Will Be First To Report Details About Government Data Requests
Setting a precedent for the telecom industry, Verizon (NYSE: VZ) said Thursday that beginning next year it would publish detailed reports on the number of government requests it receives for customer data, according to The Associated Press.
Verizon said it would publish its first report online early in 2014 and update it twice a year going forward.
The announcement came as debate in Washington continued over data gathering by the National Security Agency. The NSA has collected the phone records of millions of Americans according to documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Verizon said it would not only report the number of requests it receives, but will break the information down into categories including subpoenas, court orders and warrants. The company said it would provide other details as well as part of its regular posted reports.
Randal Milch, Verizon executive vice president for public policy released a statement saying, "The aim of our transparency report is to keep our customers informed about government requests for their data and how we respond to those requests."
Other companies, including Google, Microsoft and Apple periodically report the number of requests for personal data they receive from law enforcement and government, but those reports do not provide information about orders received as part of the anti-terrorist Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Verizon shareholders, as well as shareholders of rival AT&T, have demanded the companies disclose the extent of their interaction with the NSA. Although AT&T initially told the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was not required to disclose how it treats customer records to shareholders, the company seemed to shift its position following the Verizon announcement.
After being asked about Verizon’s move, AT&T spokesman, Mark Siegel said, "While we have disclosed a lot of information in this area, we are always exploring ways to do more."
In fact, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court stated that none of the companies ordered to turn over customer records has challenged those orders.
Verizon became the first telecom to say it would provide actual details about government demands for data.
Although Internet companies like Google and the others have been prevented from providing such details, Verizon said it was in talks with the government to be allowed to do so.
Acknowledging Verizon’s move, Jonas Kron, senior vice president of Trillium Asset Management told The Washington Post, “They are (the) first telecom company to do this, which is significant, and we are gratified that at least initially Verizon seems to be taking the steps we put forward in our resolutions for Verizon and AT&T.”
At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position with any mentioned securities.
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