AT&T and Verizon received government data requests every 60 seconds

May 6, 2014
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Recently, aĀ University of Ottawa law professor reviewed aĀ set of documents from the Canadian government showing that law enforcement agencies wereĀ asking their country’s telecom operators for subscriber informationĀ every 27 seconds.

Brian Fung at the Washington Post then looked back at the 2013 transparency reports from major U.S. phone companies and found thatĀ AT&T and Verizon together received more than one request every 60 seconds. In their first-ever transparency reports, Verizon and AT&T combined received an equivalent of 1.2 requests every minute:

  • AT&T reported receiving 301,816 requests for user data from state, local and federal authorities.
  • Verizon reported receivingĀ 321,545 requests for user data from state, local and federal authorities.

These numbers don’t includeĀ other telecom operatorsĀ in the United States since theyĀ haven’t disclosed information on government data requests. Last year, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile submitted responses with 2012 data to a congressional probe on data requests by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.):

Then again, it is highly likely that AT&T and Verizon are not disclosing everything that they are handing over to the NSA.Ā These are the same companies whoĀ broke the law several years ago by helping the government spy on citizens without a warrant.Ā TheĀ laws haveĀ changedĀ since then giving the telecom carriers immunity.

flowchart_final_008 TheVerge

Now theĀ White House is pushing to ensure that all of the bills contain provisions protecting telcos from legal harm for their ongoing cooperation in the NSAĀ programs. Why would they want this? Because some of the “reforms” being circulated would actually expand AT&T and Verizon’s role in data gathering activities. Now they would be given the job of holding additional userdata instead of the NSA.