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AT&T Publishes First Ever Transparency Report on Law Enforcement/Government Data Requests

In Archive, AT&T, CIA, FBI, NSA, Surveillance on February 21, 2014 at 3:14 PM

02/20/2014

Late last year, some activist shareholders of AT&T and Verizon demanded the companies publish transparency reports to retain the trust of its customers. Verizon was the first major phone carrier to publish a report last month, and AT&T has now published their first ever report in the phone company’s 140-year history.

This report provides specific information for all of 2013 regarding the number and types of demands to which AT&T responded, with the exception of certain information that the U.S. Department of Justice allows them to report only for the first six months of 2013.  In the future, AT&T will issue reports on a semi-annual basis.

  • AT&T received 301,816 demands related to criminal and civil litigation. Only 16,685 of these demands included a warrant based on probable cause.
  • AT&T received 223,659 subpoenas for customer information.
  • AT&T received 37,839 demands for location information. At least 21,000 of these demands lacked a warrant.
  • AT&T also received 1,034 demands for “cell tower searches” last year, some of them compelling the company to identify the numbers of all phones that connected to a specific cell tower during a given period of time.
  • AT&T reported receiving between 2,000 and 3,000 National Security Letters (NSLs) from the federal government for customer information including name, address, length of service, and toll billing records.
  • AT&T also released information about federal government demands for customer content under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), demands that may result in government access to the telephone and Internet communications of US citizens and persons abroad. For the first six months of 2013, AT&T received 0-999 requests for content that ultimately affected 35,000-35,999 customers. More AT&T customers were affected by FISA content requests in the first half of 2013 than the combined number of Facebook, Google, and Microsoft customers affected bthe same sort of requests during that period.
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