Under pressure from Congress, Verizon has provided some insight into the government’s domestic surveillance program. The telecommunications giant defended the legality of its actions, but admitted complying “as expeditiously as possible” when federal officials, without a subpoena, asked for telephone and Internet records.
Verizon—without a warrant or subpoena—turned over customer records of telephone calls and Internet activities to federal officials more than 700 times since 2005, according to the nation’s second largest telecom carrier.
In an Oct. 12 letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Verizon officials said they acted under the emergency provisions of FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). The committee is seeking information about the country’s telecom carriers’ cooperation, including possible violations of U.S. privacy laws, given the Bush administration’s admitted domestic wiretapping program.
AT&T, of San Antonio, Texas, and Qwest Communications, of Denver, also responded to the committee’s request for information, but provided no details, pointing out that they are under a federal order to not disclose any information about their activities.