AT&T and Verizon received one government data request per minute last year

Sarah Silbert
S. Silbert|05.06.14

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AT&T and Verizon received one government data request per minute last year

​Companies including Apple, Facebook and Google recently updated their privacy policies to disclose all government data requests to the individual users in question, a move meant to appease web denizens worldwide. While US telecoms like AT&T and Verizon haven't announced plans to do the same, the Washington Post pored through the companies' transparency reports to turn up a new stat. According to the publication, in 2013 AT&T and Verizon received more than one request every 60 seconds. This number is based on AT&T's reported 301,816 requests from state, local and federal authorities, and Verizon's reported 321,545 requests.

That may sound like a very high number, but as the article notes, it's dwarfed by Canadian telecoms' reported rate of one request every 27 seconds. However, the one-request-per-minute stat doesn't account for T-Mobile and Sprint, since these two companies haven't disclosed data for the same 2013 time period. (In fact, neither has committed to publicly sharing information about data requests at all.) If you were to consider data from 2012, though, requests made to the top four US carriers average about 2.2 per minute. If T-Mobile, Sprint and smaller US carriers hop on the transparency-report bandwagon, you could soon see more accurate -- and even higher -- numbers about the frequency of government queries for user info.

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