Suddenly, everyone’s a hero. In the wake of the public uproar over the NSA’s intelligence gathering, and Edward Snowden’s own data gathering efforts, many tech companies erupted in a backlash. Between petitions circulating for change and admissions that they had turned info over to the US government or other law enforcement agencies, many tech companies were caught up in a PR nightmare. In the ongoing quest for greater transparency, one carrier — Verizon — has announced they’ll be publishing requests regarding government inquiries, and updating that list twice a year.
While we don’t expect the list to read like a casting call for a high school play, detailing all the info that was asked and who it was asked of, we applaud Verizon’s efforts here. By simply noting their involvement, they’ve taken a step forward in our desire to know which companies are being tapped to turn over info, and just what’s being asked of them. The reports will be viewable publicly via the Verizon website.
The overall scope of the reports are to note how many requests Verizon had from law enforcement as it relates to criminal cases. From there, Verizon will break out how many of those requests had subpoenas, warrants, or court orders. Other details about the request will also be noted, but we don’t know what those will be just yet. In a statement, Verizon’s Executive Vice President for Public Policy Randal Milch said “The aim of our transparency report is to keep our customers informed about government requests for their data and how we respond to those requests.”
As tech companies start to open up about government requests, and the White House (among others) asks for changes to be made to the NSA’s program, checks and balances like these keep things honest. We wish the actions had been a lot more proactive, but in the current landscape we find ourselves in, this type of thing is a good start toward a better tomorrow. The first report from Verizon is said to be out early next year, though a strict timeline was not offered.