Today, Verizon announced it will begin publishing a semiannual transparency report, detailing all the law enforcement requests it has received in that period. The reports follow a path set by Google, Twitter, Facebook, and other tech companies, detailing the total number of requests broken down into subpoenas, court orders and warranted requests. At the same time, it faces many of the same limitations as other transparency reports, which are currently legally prohibited from detailing requests from National Security Letters or FISA warrants, the favored legal tools of the NSA and Department of Homeland Security.
The timing of the announcement is strange, coming more than six months after it was first revealed that the company was sharing its phone records in bulk with the National Security Agency. Only yesterday, the president's NSA review panel recommended the program be shuttered or shifted to a third-party storage system. Still, a Verizon spokesman made clear that recent scrutiny was a major factor in the decision. "In the past year, there has been greater focus than ever on the use of legal demands by governments around the world to obtain customer data," said Verizon VP of public policy Randy Milch. "Verizon calls on governments around the world to provide more information on the types and amounts of data they collect and the legal processes that apply when they do so."