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Verizon Privacy United States

Verizon Transparency Report: Govt Requests Increasing 42

Gunkerty Jeb writes "After months of public calls from privacy advocates and security experts, Verizon on Wednesday released its first transparency report, revealing that it received more than 164,000 subpoenas and between 1,000 - 2,000 National Security Letters in 2013. The report, which covers Verizon's landline, Internet and wireless services, shows that the company also received 36,000 warrants, most of which requested location or stored content data."
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Verizon Transparency Report: Govt Requests Increasing

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  • Hint (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dsginter ( 104154 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @08:22PM (#46041513)
    Now that the "terrorists" know that this stuff is monitored, the real bright ones no longer use these forms of communication. The NSA just need to keep doing this to remain employed.
    • What forms of communication could they be using that isn't telecom or internet?

      Curious minds want to know.
      • Re:Hint (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kell Bengal ( 711123 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @08:40PM (#46041699)
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Message mules? Send a person who has had no connection to the terrorist organization with a micro sd card that they swallowed. Pretty much undetectable. Heck, you could put it inside a large capsule (non-digestible) so it can easily be retrieved from their stool after they got to their destination. You can send gigabytes of data that way, with very little chance of it being found. Also, the data could be strongly encrypted, so even if they were stopped and the card was found, chances of it being read are sm

      • I think it would take us all of 5min to come up with a way to communicate on line and it would be impossible for the NSA to have any clue what we were up to. An analog cypher that is based on personal knowledge and only shared between a few people is virtually impossible to crack unless one of them is a mole.

      • They can and do communicate using human couriers.

      • The Post Office. Personal Ads. Hand signals. Meeting in person in coffee shops.

        Or I could be whooshed.

        Given the inability of the NSA to actually point to ANYTHING at all significant in the past 10+ years that they stopped/prevented with this bulk data collection, its pretty clear that the real 'terrorists' haven't been using these communication channels in a way that the NSA can determine if and/or what they are communicating.

      • They can use the Internet just have to be more crafty, use stenography on images then post to 4chan, i2p, use freenet, use retroshare. There are four non intercept-able ways i pulled of of the top of my head. I could come up with more if I bothered to. If i can they can.

  • Verizon has over 1.7 million subscribers in Q4 of 2013. The total number of subpoenas, National Security Letters and warrants is 202k. If every request was for a different subscriber then 12% of the subscribers would be subjects of the requests. That is generally not the case as different types of data and different time periods, different devices, etc could require multiple requests. The numbers don't seem that high to me.

    • by TrollstonButterbeans ( 2914995 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @08:36PM (#46041651)
      Maybe Verizon signed up 1.7 million new subscribers in the USA in the 4th quarter of 2013, but certainly Verizon has more than 1.7 million wireless customers. The market of wireless customers is in excess of 100 million in the USA and there are a very small pool of wireless providers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile).
      • by TrollstonButterbeans ( 2914995 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @08:40PM (#46041693)
        Added: [] Chart.
      • I was at work so I pulled the first number I found. according to this [] Verizon had 119.4 million subscribers as of Q3 2013. Therefore 119.4M/202K = 0.17%. Taking into account the number of requests for the same subscriber the numbers are even better.

        • by mwehle ( 2491950 )

          Verizon had 119.4 million subscribers as of Q3 2013. Therefore 119.4M/202K = 0.17%. Taking into account the number of requests for the same subscriber the numbers are even better.

          What is it about these numbers that you find "better"? Which numbers are "good" in the first place, let alone better? Is the NSA requesting the data of less than one fifth of one percent of Verizon's customers good? What percent would be bad? One percent? Ten percent? I am curious what your tolerance of government spying is.

          What is interesting to me is not the percentage of customers on whom data was requested, but the number of requests which were reported. I am curious what prompted interest in around 20

          • And assuming one phone number per demand.

            From the article: "In addition, we received about 3,200 warrants or court orders for “cell tower dumps” last year. In such instances, the warrant or court order compelled us to identify the phone numbers of all phones that connected to a specific cell tower during a given period of time."

            • A possible reason for such a dump would be a suspect's statement that he was not at a certain location at a certain time. Dump the local tower and if his phone shows up he was probably there. Any other people who happened to be connected during that time are ignored by the police. It may not be allowable for the police to ask if a specific phone was connected to a specific tower so they dump the whole tower.

              • Except, at least for some police departments, the data is NOT ignored. Some departments keep ALL the data they receive, regardless of whether it is at all relevant to the reason they acquired the data.

                And at least 4 of the warrants involved every single subscriber of Verizon [the bulk metadata FISA warrants, renewed every 90 days].

              • Or it might be used to discover every cell phone number in the vicinity of a political assembly or protest.

                • Every tool can be used for bad but that does not mean it is never used for good. Should we take guns away from police because they have been used to kill innocent people? If the request was used for that reason then the person requesting it should be prosecuted.

          • Re:Oops (Score:4, Informative)

            by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @11:37PM (#46042795)

            You are assuming that the requests are all coming from the NSA. The only mention of the NSA in the article is in relation to Snowden. There are many other government agencies other than the NSA, including local police, who make these requests. There are many different crimes that might prompt such requests; organized crime, drug dealing, murder, extortion, etc. For example, the first thing done in most murder investigations where a phone is missing is to dump the phone. Even when the phone is available, the history may have been deleted as drug dealers often do.

            If all the requests did come from the NSA it might be bad but they didn't. In the end we have no idea how many requests came from the NSA and blaming them for all the requests is invalid. This knee jerk "if it is surveillance it must be the NSA" is getting out of hand.

  • FISA (Score:3, Informative)

    by game kid ( 805301 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @08:39PM (#46041681) Homepage

    From the report:

    Does this Transparency Report include information on the number of national security orders you receive?

    We report only information about National Security Letters. Like all other companies to issue transparency reports, we are not permitted at this time to report information on national security orders (like FISA orders).

    So (before you ask) it does not account for the April 2013 secret FISA Hoover-order or any other such.

  • how many of those information lists or requests ended up with Verizon losing a customer.
    (i.e. They went missing or are now deceased.)

    VERY interested in such a study.


    • Ah, a fellow Investigative Discovery fan...

      Great catch. The reported missing and suspiciously dead people possibly make up a significant number of requests.

      Unmentionable security orders are a horse of another color. No reporting means no oversight means abuses.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Straight Talk wireless prepaid phone from Walmart.
    Pay cash for it.
    Pay cash for refill cards.
    DO NOT port your existing number to it.
    They will eventually identify who the phone belongs to by your "social map" of people you call and who calls you, so.....
    Lather, rinse, repeat frequently.

  • by ThermalRunaway ( 1766412 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @11:56PM (#46042875)
    My sister is a defense attorney. She is responsible for a few of those subpoena items in 2013. None of them for anything remotely related to national security or terrorists. The last one was some dispute about a winning state lottery ticket... she had to get the txt msg records for her client and the other person.
  • will stop at nothing to find "domestic terrorists". Indeed, watch as they now _create_ domestic terrorism out of thin air.

    Own a firearm? Belong to the Tea Party? Got food rations for six months? Have more than a box of ammo? Your own water well? Got gold hidden somewhere? Support Israel against Iran?

    If the answer is "Yes" then you must be a "domestic terrorist".

FORTRAN is the language of Powerful Computers. -- Steven Feiner