Verizon: We Received 320,000 Govt. Data Requests In 2013

According to its promised report (opens in new tab) on government data requests, Verizon received "approximately 320,000 requests for customer information from federal, state or local law enforcement in the United States," in 2013, the company said Jan. 22.

Most of those were for consumer rather than enterprise (business) customers.

That came less than a week after President Barack Obama pledged to narrow those requests and reform the bulk collection process in the wake of NSA data collection disclosures from leaker Edward Snowden, though he said such data collection was important and would continue.

Calling it the first ever transparency report from a telecom company, Verizon executive VP and general counsel Randal Milch (pictured) called it a "constructive addition to the ongoing conversation about privacy and public safety."

Verizon says it releases the data only in response to a "valid" law enforcement request or in an emergency involving possible death or serious injury.

The requests were a mix of subpoenas, the largest group at 164,000, from law enforcement; orders from judges (70,000), probable cause warrants (36,000)—including 14,500 for the contents of communications like e-mail or text messages, which Verizon only provides under warrant—and 35,000 for location information, again supplied only with a warrant; emergency requests (85,611, provided on showing of potential danger of death or serious injury); and national security letters (1,000-2,000). The government does not allow Verizon to be more specific than that broad range.  

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.