Government Requested Data From Phone Companies Every 60 Seconds Last Year

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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According to AT&T and Verizon’s 2013 transparency reports detailing the number of government requests for customer information, investigators, including the National Security Agency, asked for user data more than once every 60 seconds.

The Washington Post reported the breakdown after a University of Ottawa law professor calculated last week that Canadian law enforcement agencies request customer data from telecommunications companies every 27 seconds.

AT&T received 301,816 requests and Verizon 321, 545 from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Averaged out across all of 2013, that comes out to 1.2 requests every minute.

Though that number alone already appears staggering, the real number is undoubtedly higher. AT&T and Verizon are only two out of a number of telecommunications providers in the U.S., including smaller services like CenturyLink and Frontier, or wireless carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile. The reports also state that to comply with the classified nature of certain types of government requests, a number of them could not be disclosed.

In terms of mobile requests, AT&T reported 562,000 requests in 2012, Verizon 270,000, T-Mobile 297,350, and Sprint declined to release its number. Though the data sets for wireless and landlines are from different years, combining the two already bumps the average requests-per-minute up to 2.2, meaning the actual current number is higher still.

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