T-Mobile got almost 352,000 requests from the government for data last year. That number is easily the most that any wireless carrier in the United States has gotten in terms of data requests, more than Verizon Wireless, AT&T, or Sprint.
The fourth biggest wireless carrier in the US (when it comes to subscriber base size) issued a transparency report last week, stating that t had fielded 177,549 criminal and civil subpoenas, 17,316 warrants, and over 3,000 wiretap orders.
Interestingly, this is the first time that T-Mobile has released a transparency report. Perhaps this is not too surprising -- in recent years, carriers have been pressured by various civil liberties organizations, shareholder and consumer advocates to be more transparent about when these companies customer data public. As for T-Mobile, it was actually the latest among the Big Four wireless carriers in the US to release a transparency report, which is issued while amid ongoing criticism of surveillance activities being performed by the US National Security Agency (which include collecting information on phone calls), famously exposed by NSA contractor Edward Snowden when he leaked government files that were classified.
Also, compared to the year before, the number of data requests that T-Mobile fielded from the government this year had a marked increase. As a matter of fact, this year’s numbers were up 11 percent from 2013’s.
And intriguingly, even though T-Mobile had the lesser number of customers, it got the most data requests from the government. AT&T only got 263,755 requests, Verizon Wireless got 287,559, while Sprint had 308,937. T-Mobile’s is at nearly 352,000.
T-Mobile also managed to receive between 2,000 to 2,250 national security requests for data, and a total of eight requests from governments outside the US.
Wireless carriers, or any company for that matter, are not technically legally obligated to issue transparency reports. But considering how various online privacy issues have surfaced in the last few years, various businesses may have felt the need to be more open about how they disclose data. This may be due to increasing pressure from different advocacy groups, or perhaps companies just want to establish some goodwill with their customers by making an effort to be more transparent, or at least reassuring everybody that they got nothing to hide. Or, such reports could a form of damage control, especially with regards to the reputations of some of these companies, which might have been tarnished because of Snowden’s revelations.
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