Verizon Finally Releases Transparency Report Showing Many Requests, But Scale Of Those Requests Is Missing

from the details-please dept

After quite a lot of pressure, both Verizon and AT&T agreed last month to issue transparency reports like those that Google has offered for years, and which most of the other large internet companies have started offering in the last year or two. Verizon released its first one today, showing that it's pretty busy handling government requests. These are the numbers from 2013:
  • Suboenas: 164,184
  • General court orders: 62,857
  • Pen Registers/Trap & Trace: 6,312
  • Wiretap orders: 1,496
  • Warrants: 36,696
  • "Emergency requests" from law enforcement: ~50,000
  • National Security Letters (NSLs): between 1,000 and 1,999
The report provides some further explanation. For example, it notes that over half of the subpoenas requested customer info -- i.e., the name and address of someone based on a phone number or IP address. Verizon does not say how often it refuses to provide information in response to a subpoena. In terms of getting access to content, Verizon notes that 14,500 of the warrants were for "stored content" which would be things like emails or text messages stored on Verizon's servers.

Of course, what this leaves out may be more interesting than what's included. While it lists the numbers for these requests, it gives no indication how many of its users are targeted. A single subpoena could, for example, request information on everyone. While that may be an extreme example, the point is that the number of requests doesn't really tell you very much overall. Or, perhaps not an extreme example. This report doesn't show, for example, what Verizon hands over under orders from the FISC under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. We already know that Section 215 has resulted in FISA orders for metadata on every Verizon mobile phone customers. That's probably counted as one single "court order" in that big list above. Similarly, as has been revealed in the past, the NSA works with telcos to directly tap the internet backbone for information. Where is that included in the list above?

Point being, this isn't all that "transparent," because bare numbers don't really mean that much.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    AricTheRed (profile), Jan 22nd, 2014 @ 4:22pm

    As a Verizon customer, under duress...

    I'm not surprised, and too disgusted to say more on the subject.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2014 @ 4:29pm

    this is not "from the details-please dept".

    This is from BS dept.

    What kind of journmalism is that?:

    "Verizon Finally Releases Transparency Report
    [...]Emergency requests" from law enforcement: ~50,000"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jan 22nd, 2014 @ 4:36pm

    Oh, now it's bare numbers don't really mean that much."

    But you've run puff pieces on Google going to court (with you implying it has "First Amendment right") to be able to put out some numbers as if meaningful.

    Here's related examples -- BOTH of which were censored by the free-thinking, dissent-welcoming, always-polite fanboys here at Techdirt:

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20131008/12415724799/tech-companies-lawsuit-over-transpar ency-concerning-nsa-surveillance-put-hold-due-to-government-shutdown.shtml#c20

    http://www.techdirt.co m/articles/20130909/13290924456/internet-companies-renew-fight-to-publish-data-nsa-requests-1st-amen dment-grounds-say-news-reports-are-false.shtml#c155

    "like those that Google has offered for years" -- A subtle promotion for Google by contrast, but as I've said often and according to your last sentence above, Google TOO simply puts out unverifiable meaningless crap.

    All the news you saw last week on other sites, re-written to cherry pick points that fit Mike's agenda.

    12:36:07[n-297-7]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Techanon, Jan 22nd, 2014 @ 5:05pm

    Re:

    I loled at the 'between 1000 and 1999' for the NSLs. Okay, maybe that's more specific than 'between 0 and [insert ridiculously large upper limit here]'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jan 22nd, 2014 @ 5:32pm

    50,000 emergency requests? What the hell does that mean? In a year? There were hundreds of emergencies per day in 2013 that required asking verizon for information??

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2014 @ 7:36pm

    Re:

    There were hundreds of emergencies per day in 2013 that required asking verizon for information??

    As long as cop comes up with any BS story, it's fine with verizon, which charges $1500 a pop.
    That allows to make an extra $3 000 000 a year for nothing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2014 @ 7:57pm

    And how many terrorists did they catch? Fucking ZERO.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    FM Hilton, Jan 22nd, 2014 @ 11:08pm

    The heart of a phone record

    That Verizon even gave any numbers is rather surprising, but the fact that they don't give anything other than those is not.

    I can be willing to bet that they probably do not refuse many of the requests, no matter what the numbers are.

    Because they were given retroactive immunity from any kind of punishment by any group for invasion of privacy a long time ago. Why should they care what we think?

    It's just metadata, you know.

    And that's the scariest part.

    Remember that next time you pay your phone bill. Your information is being shared with the feds. Every single bit of it.

    Disgusting, isn't it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Vidiot (profile), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 4:46am

    Does this include all the times Lenny Briscoe calls his "buddy at the phone company" to "pull the LUD's" on some suspected perp?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 5:27am

    What this all means!

    Is that there are thousands upon thousands of 'Terrorists' in the USA... and they are doing nothing but requesting data from the carriers.

    It's a shame those pesky downloaders will have to be carted off to gitmo... to protect 'National Security' and all!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 9:14am

    Verizon does not say how often it refuses to provide information in response to a subpoena.

    Zero... the answer is zero, thats why.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 11:00am

    so many questions

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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