Verizon received 320,000 U.S. law enforcement requests for customer names, phone call records, text messages, and other kinds of customer data in 2013, the company revealed in a report released Wednesday.
Phone carriers had long resisted efforts to release such transparency reports, which privacy-minded internet companies have issued for years. But Verizon changed course after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that it was turning U.S. customers' phone data to the government in bulk. It is the first major phone company to release such a report.
“The past year saw an intense focus around the world on government demands to obtain customer data,” Randal Milch, Verizon's general counsel and executive vice president for public policy, dryly noted in a blog post accompanying the release of the report.
Verizon's report revealed that local, state and federal law enforcers asked for data 164,184 times via subpoenas, 70,665 times via court orders, and 36,696 times via warrants, which require a judge to find there is probable cause to believe they will produce evidence in a crime since they can actually obtain the content of a communication. There were also approximately 50,000 emergency requests for data from law enforcement.