https://www.accessnow.org:443/telco-hall-of-shame-verizon/

Telco Hall of Shame: Verizon

Inductee: Verizon Communications Company

Headquarters: USA

CEO and Board Chairman: Lowell C. McAdam

Board of Directors

Verizon Wireless is a joint venture between Verizon Communications and Vodafone.

CORPORATE INFO

Network Size: 144.8 million customers

Countries of OperationMore than 150 countries

Finances: $13.2 billion in operating income in 2011

HUMAN RIGHTS POLICY

We respect the broad principles in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, many of which can be applied to how global businesses can build good relationships around the world and work successfully among different customs and cultures.

We may disclose information that individually identifies our customers or identifies customer devices in certain circumstances, such as:

  • to comply with valid legal process including subpoenas, court orders or search warrants, and as otherwise authorized by law;
  • in cases involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person or other emergencies;
  • to protect our rights or property, or the safety of our customers or employees…”

THE RECORD

Facilitating warrantless wiretapping for the National Security Agency (NSA)

Verizon admitted to complying with 94,000 government requests for user information that lacked a proper legal warrant or court order between 2005 and 2007. Verizon also complied with the 2001 NSA program to maintain a complete list of the calling habits of US customers. The NSA worked with the telcos to store, monitor, and analyze customers’ calling habits without a legal warrant or court order all national and international telephone activity.

News reports indicated that this was part of a broader pattern of cooperation between US telcos and the NSA. The NSA had built a national database to analyze calls, and had asked the telcos to turn over the complete records of the calling histories of their customers, and to provide the agency with regular updates. One US telco, Qwest, refused to cooperate due to unanswered questions regarding the legality of the program.

Compliance with US law enforcement agency requests

In 2012, US cell phone service providers responded to a Congressional request to detail the extent of their cooperation with law enforcement requests for user information. All carriers reported that the number of requests were increasing dramatically over the previous five years.

Verizon stated that in 2011, it complied with 260,000 requests for user data and phone records.

Six-strike rule for copyright infringers

Verizon is part of a consortium of ISPs working towards implementing a “six strikes” response to users who allegedly infringe US copyright laws.

The six-strike rule will essentially disconnect users from the internet who are merely accused of online copyright violations, without legal adjudication. Known as the “Copyright Alert System,” Verizon users will receive a warning that they have been accused of copyright infringement, and then be required to acknowledge the receipt of the warning. If copyright holders continue to file complaints with the ISPs, their internet connection will be throttled for between two and three days, essentially cutting off the user from accessing the internet.

Users will have the right to appeal – but must pay a $35 fee in order to be able to even challenge the allegations leveled against them, fining them before any unlawful actions have been proven.

The ISPs are describing the system as “educational,” and not punitive.

This policy could also inadvertently shut down public Wi-Fi hotspots, such as in airports or coffee shops, by holding the owners accountable for the activities of users.

Know something about Verizon that we missed? Let our telco policy expert Peter Micek know peter@accessnow.org | Public Key: 0x22510994

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