Emerging Tech

Feds Seek Verizon's Data Nearly 15 Times More Often Than Google's

Matt Rourke/AP File Photo

Verizon released its first-ever transparency report on Wednesday, disclosing that the telecom giant received about 320,000 requests for customer information from U.S. federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in 2013.

That dwarfs the number of U.S. government requests for user data received by Web companies such as Google and Facebook, which both reported receiving about 11,000 such requests in the first half of 2013. Google and Facebook have not yet released numbers for the second half of 2013.

Verizon received somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 requests in the form of national security letters, which are issued to help the federal government investigate national security threats but cannot be used to build ordinary civil and criminal cases.

The report follows revelations from leaker Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency relied on vast amounts of Verizon user data in its investigations of terrorism and other foreign threats. The report does not include information Verizon turned over to the NSA in response to orders under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Shareholders and transparency groups have been pressuring Verizon to be more transparent about information it turns over to the government. Google and some other Internet companies have published similar transparency reports for several years. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story briefly ran with an incorrect headline. The government requested data from Verizon about 15 times more often than it requested data from Google, according to the new report.

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