U.S. government made 150,000 requests for Verizon data in six months

Summary:Verizon's latest transparency report revealed the U.S. government issued tens of thousands of subpoenas in 2014 so far. But still no word on those pesky FISA warrants.

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The U.S. government issued around 150,000 customer data requests from Verizon during the first half of 2014, the company said.

In its latest transparency report published Tuesday, the company complied with the vast majority — most of which were subpoenas for subscriber information on a single phone number or IP address, totaling more than 72,300. Other subpoenas demanded metadata requests, such as who a subscriber had called at a given time, the company said.

There were 37,000 court orders, which are harder to get than subpoenas because they require a judge's signature to authorize.

Out of this figure, 714 wiretaps that gave U.S. government access to user's content, were authorized. Over 3,000 trap-and-trace orders and pen registers, which give law enforcement and intelligence agencies real-time access to incoming and outgoing numbers respectively.

There were 24,257 "emergency" requests, which can be served on the company in cases where life or property are immediately threatened. 

Top secret and classified FISA warrants were not disclosed in the report, the company noted. These warrants can be served on companies to hand over data to the government for later inspection by the intelligence services.

"The government requires that we delay the report of any orders issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for six months. Thus, at this time, the most recent FISA information we may report is for the second half of 2013."

A little over a year ago, The Guardian published a top secret FISA warrant that ordered the phone giant to hand over its entire cache of metadata — including times, dates, and durations of phone calls, and the phone numbers themselves — on an ongoing basis.

Verizon did not comment, or confirm or deny the FISA warrant.

Little details were given on international requests. Aside from the U.S., France led the data request league table with 762 data requests, followed by Germany with 670 requests.

Topics: Security, Mobility


Zack Whittaker is a writer-editor for ZDNet, and sister sites CNET and CBS News. He is based in the New York newsroom. His PGP key is: EB6CEEA5.

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