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AT&T to disclose government requests for customer data

Following Verizon's decision to tell the public how many government requests for customer data it gets, AT&T now says that it, too, is planning a transparency report.


AT&T has joined Verizon Communications in publishing a report that details how many surveillance requests it gets from law enforcement.

The company announced Friday that it will begin publishing a semiannual report offering details of requests it has received from law enforcement. This comes one day after Verizon announced a similar plan. AT&T and Verizon have each come under pressure from shareholders to disclose to their customers how many requests they get a year.

These reports will include information about the total number of law-enforcement data requests they receive from governments in criminal cases including the number of subpoenas, court orders, and warrants. And they will also disclose the total number of customers affected by these requests. The first report will include information for 2013.

What the reports will not do is disclose information that the government prohibits it from disclosing. For example, the company is legally prohibited from detailing requests from National Security Letters or FISA warrants.

These announcements from AT&T and Verizon come days after a federal judge ruled that a US National Security Agency surveillance program that collects phone record metadata on all US citizens is likely unconstitutional.

The lawsuit was filed after it became public in June that the NSA had been collecting records of millions of phone calls made in the US under a top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order. The information came to light in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.