Verizon reveals 150K government information requests in first half of 2014

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The U.S. government made close to 150,000 requests for customer information in the first half of 2014, including 72,500 subpoenas, Verizon (NYSE: VZ) said as part of its second Transparency Report.

Randal Milch, Verizon's executive vice president-public policy and general counsel, said that the requests, while seemingly high in total, actually reflected a "very small" number of affected customers.

"We received more subpoenas than any other type of legal process in the first half of the year in the United States, but those approximately 72,500 subpoenas sought information regarding only approximately one-tenth of one percent of our United States customers," Milch wrote in a blog posted on the Verizon website.

Each subpoena, he said, "typically seeks information about a small number of customers," and 90 percent of the subpoenas sought information about three or fewer customers.

Milch wrote that Verizon "continue(s) to take positions in support of privacy that are not as public," including pushing back against "legal demands, forcing law enforcement agencies to narrow the scope of their requests, correct errors in their demands or issue a different form of legal process before we will produce a specific type of data."

The carrier, he said, "rejected a number of demands from law enforcement and completely did not produce some of the information sought through other law enforcement demands."

Verizon's goal in releasing the report--which is "even better than our first one"--is to "add to the ongoing discourse about government demands for customer data and, more generally, about privacy and public safety."

Milch also made a plea to "governments around the world" to make public the demands they've made for customer data from telecom and Internet companies.

"Only governments can provide a comprehensive view of the demands they are making for information," Milch concluded.

In an unrelated development, shares of Verizon stock were down 1.93 percent to $48.82 in late afternoon trading, leading 24/7 WallStreet.com to label the company the "big loser among the Dow 30 stocks" on Tuesday.

Despite the dip, TheStreet ratings team rates Verizon as a "buy" driven by "the company's strengths … in multiple areas."

For more:
- see this Verizon blog entry
- 24/7 WallStreet.com has this story
- TheStreet.com has this story

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