Even though the year is barely half over, the government has already sent Verizon 149,000 requests for clients’ data this year. This is a part of the company’s second ever transparency report which basically reports to the public how much information they’re being forced to hand over, or willingly handing over as part of a cooperation program with the government. The numbers only represent the first 6 months of this year, meaning that they will only be about half the amount of requests that one would expect over the course of the year. Below, we’ve copied Verizon’s table to show you a comparison from year to year and what kinds of requests Verizon is getting.
As you can see, the numbers for this year are actually slightly down from where they were last year, with a significant reduction in warrants, which is actually pretty worrying since it accounts for the biggest portion of the reduction after subpoenas which are also important because both require a certain level of jurisprudence and usually a judge. The good thing is that emergency requests haven’t necessarily gone up, but I have a feeling that these numbers are overall higher than they need to be and that a lot of the customer data that is being collected may not actually be necessary or pertinent to the case at hand based upon evidence available.
Thankfully we’re seeing more and more companies showing their customers exactly how much and what kind of data Verizon is forced to give up on their clients. It sounds ridiculous, because to a degree it is, but it is also necessary when real law enforcement is needed and we aren’t relying on the NSA or CIA to do the dirty work. Sure, agencies like the FBI rely on the NSA to do a lot of their dirty work electronically, but it doesn’t change the fact that there is still real law enforcement going on and such requests are normal. Unfortunately, the Washington Post slightly over editorialized this story by making a big deal of the requests for the first 6 months of this year, even though the numbers are overall quite a bit lower than last year’s.