The WaPo reports: Verizon gives up its customers’ database of intentions to the government on request, sometimes without proper legal construct. The same is most likely true for other telcos, but Verizon went furthest in providing details when asked by a Congressional oversight committee. The question then becomes: Do you trust the government to use this data properly?
The disclosures, in a letter from Verizon to three Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee investigating the carriers’ participation in government surveillance programs, demonstrated the willingness of telecom companies to comply with government requests for data, even, at times, without traditional legal supporting documents. The committee members also got letters from AT&T and Qwest Communications International, but those letters did not provide details on customer data given to the government. None of the three carriers gave details on any classified government surveillance program.
From January 2005 to September 2007, Verizon provided data to federal authorities on an emergency basis 720 times, it said in the letter. The records included Internet protocol addresses as well as phone data. In that period, Verizon turned over information a total of 94,000 times to federal authorities armed with a subpoena or court order, the letter said. The information was used for a range of criminal investigations, including kidnapping and child-predator cases and counter-terrorism investigations.
Verizon and AT&T said it was not their role to second-guess the legitimacy of emergency government requests.