Markey Praises Verizon Decision to Publish Data Requests

Senator says he will introduce legislation mandating more government transparency on requests

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) one of the Hill's point men on online privacy and security, Thursday praised a decision by Verizon to start publishing a report of law enforcement requests for mobile customer data.

Markey has been investigating government requests for data from wireless customers and said Thursday he will be introducing legislation requiring regular disclosure from the law enforcement side on the "nature and volume" of such requests.

Markey says the bill will also "curb bulk data requests, require warrants for geolocation information requests..."

“Verizon is taking an important step toward transparency, and I call on the other wireless carriers to follow its lead and regularly disclose their law enforcement requests for wireless information," the Senator said in a statement. "We clearly need more sunlight in this area, and I soon will introduce legislation to strengthen privacy safeguards for consumers. Reporting is a critical first step towards informing Americans about the nature and extent of wireless surveillance. We need to put rules on the books that protect Americans’ privacy and rights.”

Verizon announced Dec. 19 that it will provide data on the number of requests for customer information it received in 2013 both in the U.S and abroad.

“Verizon is committed to our customers’ privacy, and we do not sell information that individually identifies our customers to third parties without our customers’ consent," said Randal S. Milch, executive VP, public policy and general counsel, Verizon. "All companies are required to provide information to government agencies in certain circumstances, however, this new report is intended to provide more transparency about law enforcement requests. Although we have a legal obligation to provide customer information to law enforcement in response to lawful demands, we take seriously our duty to provide such information only when authorized by law. We have released the lion’s share of this data for the past two years, and we are taking this step to make this information more consistently and easily available.”