Could Apple’s high profile spat with the FBI have had a cooling effect on demands for customer data? Or is it something else?
The number of law enforcement demands for customer data submitted to U.S. wireless operator Verizon was at its lowest point in more than two years in the first half of 2016, according to the carrier’s latest Transparency Report.
According to the report, the total number demands received in the form of subpoenas, orders, warrants and emergency requests was just 135,786. That figure was down from a high of nearly 150,000 requests in the first half of 2015.
In addition to overall requests, the categories of Total Orders, Warrants and Emergency requests were all also at two year lows. Verizon received 33,161 total orders, 11,798 warrants and 23,394 emergency requests.
The number of requests in the Subpoena category, however, was up slightly from 65,663 in the second half of 2015 to 67,433 in the first half of this year. The number of Pen Registers/Tap& Trace orders and Wiretap orders, both subcategories under the Total Orders umbrella, were also up from 2,678 and 567, respectively, in the second half to 2015 to 2,870 and 656 in the first half of 2016.
Verizon also received a number of national security demands, including between 0 and 499 National Security Letters from the FBI seeking between 500 and 999 customer selectors. Those figures were flat from the second half of 2015.
Verizon said none of the U.S. demands counted in this or any prior Transparency Reports sought customer data stored in overseas data centers.
At this point, it’s hard to say if the trend of fewer requests holds across the board among the top four carriers, as AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile don’t appear to have released updated reports yet. Previous reports indicate Verizon’s competitors may have seen a significantly higher number of requests.
According to data from the most recent period for which all four carriers released transparency reports – the full year 2014 – T-Mobile led the carriers for overall law enforcement requests with 351,940 despite being only the fourth largest carrier at the time. With 308,937 overall requests, Sprint came in second place, followed by Verizon with 287,559 overall requests and AT&T with 263,755 requests.