Verizon Transparency Report reveals 164,000 subpoenas, 1,500 wiretaps

The company received about 320,000 requests for customer information in the US, and just a few thousand internationally.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
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As expected, Verizon has released its 2013 Transparency Report, and the company's data shows the US is extremely interested in its network.

Last year, Verizon received more than 320,000 requests for customer information from US law enforcement agencies. Verizon was hit with more than 164,000 subpoenas and nearly 71,000 legal orders. Among those orders were 1,500 wiretap requests. Verizon received 37,000 warrants for information and about 50,000 "emergency requests."

Verizon has become the latest in a series of major companies to release information on government requests for its data. Google, Yahoo, and many others also have released such data. None of the companies, however, have been allowed to publish information about under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), due to the US government's claim of national security.

That said, Verizon was able to provide a range on how many national security letters it received in 2013: 1,000 to 1,999.

Verizon's Transparency Report reveals that its database of customers is a possible treasure trove of information for law enforcement agencies. Through the use of warrants, orders, and emergency requests, law enforcement was able to gain access to targeted customers' location information and "content that a customer may store through our services, such as text messages or e-mail." Law enforcement agencies, when presenting the proper information, can access real-time communication, including what phone numbers are being dialed.

For its part, Verizon made clear that it doesn't provide information unless it's legally bound to do so. The company also called on the US and foreign governments to be more transparent in their data requests:

In the United States, the government is especially suited to report the number of demands it makes from such companies. There is already a framework for this based on requirements for the government to report to Congress on the number of wiretap orders, pen register and trap and trace orders, certain emergency requests, and national security letters. The United States government should expand on this existing framework and report annually on the numbers of all types of demands made by federal and state law enforcement to telecommunications and Internet companies for data regarding their customers.

One other interesting note from the Transparency Report: just a few thousand requests were made on Verizon by international law enforcement agencies.