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AT&T shoots down shareholder demands for transparency on law enforcement requests

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AT&T (stock)
AT&T (stock)

Last month, institutional investors in AT&T and Verizon asked the two companies begin to issue the kinds of transparency reports popularized by internet businesses like Twitter and Google. Today, AT&T is issuing its response to the request, reports the New York Times, and unsurprisingly, it’s not too excited about the idea. To AT&T, its response to law enforcement requests represent "ordinary business operations," outside the purview of ordinary shareholders, so it’s excluding the request from the ballot for next spring’s annual shareholder meeting. The policy the company cites is designed to prevent shareholders from "probing too deeply into matters of a complex nature upon which [they]… would not be in a position to make an informed judgment."

Companies like Google are actively pushing the DOJ

The response also notes that while shareholders were motivated by nonstop news coverage of the NSA’s vast surveillance efforts, the company couldn’t release the details of secret requests even if it wanted to. (A fact Google publicly skewered in its most recent transparency report.) But while that may be true, companies like Google are actively pushing the DOJ for the ability to publish data on secret FISA requests, and there’s nothing stopping AT&T from publishing figures on ordinary law enforcement requests. Nothing other than AT&T's board of directors, that is. Head over to the Times to read the company's entire response.