Ever since last summer’s leaks about the U.S. government’s secret electronic spying programs internet companies as well as mobile carriers have been trying to be more transparent about the customer information requests that they receive from the government. The country’s largest mobile carrier Verizon reported yesterday that it had received nearly 150,000 customer information requests from the U.S. government in the first half of this year, most of them were subpoenas.
According to Verizon it was presented with 72,342 subpoenas with almost half of them requesting the carrier to divulge information on a phone number or IP address. Others requested transactional information such as the list of phone numbers called by a particular customer.
The carrier received over 37,000 court orders which included orders for 714 wiretaps that allow the government to access content of communications. More than 3,000 pen registers and trap and trace orders were handed down to provide the government with real-time access to outgoing and incoming phone numbers.
The carrier also touched briefly on international requests for information, with France making the bulk of requests for identifying customers with either an IP address or a phone number. The country made 762 such requests.
The government’s argument is often that all this is required to keep the nation safe, whereas privacy advocates don’t buy that logic. Its a never ending debate really, but at least now the companies and corporations are being open about how much information they’re giving to the government.