Law enforcement demands for Verizon customer data jumped 5% from 2017

Verizon says during the second half of 2018, law enforcement demands for customer data were up from 2017 but down from the first half of 2018. (Monica Alleven/FierceWireless)

Verizon disclosed today that it received a total of 139,659 subpoenas, orders, warrants and emergency requests from law enforcement agencies during the second half of 2018. The total number of requests was down nearly 4% from the first half of the year; however, warrants and emergency requests from law enforcement were both up from the previous period.

Law enforcement demands for customer data were up nearly 5% from the second half of 2017 when Verizon received a total of 132,858 requests. Verizon says it rejected almost 3% of the subpoenas and more than 4% of the warrants and orders it received during the second half of 2018. Demands are rejected as legally invalid for various reasons, according to Verizon.

“Moreover, if a demand is overly broad, we will not produce any information, or will seek to narrow the scope of the demand and produce only a subset of the information sought,” Verizon wrote in the biannual transparency report. The report covers all law enforcement demands for customer data in Verizon’s wireline, phone, internet, television, telematics and wireless service divisions. It does not include figures for AOL or Yahoo, which are both owned by Verizon.


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The nation’s largest wireless carrier separately reported between 500 and 999 national security letters from the FBI seeking information on 2,500 to 2,999 customers during the second half of 2018. The FBI has consistently increased the number of national security demands imposed on Verizon since 2016. Orders issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act have remained steady between zero and 499 since the reporting began, and the government requires that companies delay reporting for six months, so the most recent data is from the first half of 2018.

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Overall, subpoenas comprise the bulk of law enforcement requests for data, representing almost 46% of all demands during the second half of 2018. Total orders and general orders from law enforcement came in at 28,098 and 24,349, respectively. Verizon also received 33,001 emergency requests from law enforcement, 14,543 warrants and 586 wiretap orders during the six-month period.

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