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AT&T's first transparency report reveals 300,000 total law enforcement requests

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

After belatedly deciding to follow Verizon's lead last year, AT&T has published its first transparency report, detailing the number of customer data requests it received from local, state, and federal law enforcement in 2013. It tallies 301,816 total requests for phone records and subscriber information, split between subpoenas, court orders, and search warrants. However, the company concedes that it can't yet legally go into specifics about the number of national security requests it received from the NSA, though it promises to include "new information as we are allowed by government policy changes" going forward.

AT&T breaks down its law enforcement requests into multiple categories according to the nature of the request and the kind of data being provided. The numbers are altogether comparable to Verizon's own report from last month. The most common requests came in the form of subpoenas, coming in at 248,343 counted between criminal and civil cases. Location demands number 37,839 between historical and real-time data and information pulled down from cell towers. A grand total of 22 requests were made for international data, but AT&T doesn't go into the same kind of detail Verizon did in its own report regarding what nations that data was coming from.

Between 35,000 and 35,999 requests made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

The numbers are far less exacting when it comes to national security requests, which can only be described in increments of a thousand. Moreover, it can only cop to FISA court orders it got in the first six months of 2013. That said, AT&T does reveal that it received between 2,000 and 2,999 national security letters last year. More significantly, the report shows 35,000 and 35,999 requests made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for data that would eventually make it into the hands of the NSA. The company now has committed to releasing reports like this on a semiannual basis.

AT&T, along with Verizon, has come under fire for complying with the NSA in the ongoing bulk surveillance scandal, though the company has been reticent to release specifics on law enforcement requests. Only in December did the company agree to release a report on the matter. More reports are sure to come. President Obama stated recently that companies will need to be willing to provide information on these orders, and National Intelligence Director James Clapper said that companies will eventually provide more estimates of the demands they receive.