AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) are facing new heat from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California, which has filed a sharedholder proposal over how they share information with government agencies.
Joined by other investors, the organization says it wants the two telcos to publish transparency reports detailing how often they share information with the U.S. or foreign governments and what type of customer information is shared.
ACLU co-filed the AT&T proposal with the New York State Common Retirement Fund and the Verizon proposal with Trillium Asset Management LLC, a Boston-based investment management firm.
Both proposals point out that reports on government data requests are published on a regular basis by Internet companies such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL). Alternatively, AT&T and Verizon have not said what kind of information they give to the government.
"As shareholders, customers, and citizens we deserve to know if phone companies like AT&T and Verizon are handing our personal information over to the government," said ACLU of Northern California Executive Director Abdi Soltani. "Secret, unchecked surveillance is antithetical to democracy, and the government is going too far."
The ACLU's proposals follow the wave of controversy over a request made by the National Security Agency (NSA) for Verizon Business to provide it with its daily call detail records. That order was issued shortly after the bombing at the Boston Marathon in April.
It was later revealed that the NSA's phone and data collection effort included AT&T and Sprint (NYSE: S).
- see the ACLU release
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