Canada's Telus discloses extent of government data requests

Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:20pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Telecom provider Telus Corp detailed the requests for customer information it has received from the Canadian government on Thursday, joining rival Rogers Communications Inc in providing greater transparency amid growing public concern about state surveillance.

Vancouver-based Telus said it received 103,462 requests relating to its wireless, Internet or fixed-line customers in 2013, the first year for which it is making data available.

Public concern about government surveillance has spiked following revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the U.S. government harvested enormous amounts of personal data from telecom and technology companies.

Telus said more than half the requests it received were to track the location of a device to protect someone's life, health or security in an emergency. It said it received 40,900 requests for information such as the names and addresses associated with a phone number.

The company said it has tightened its disclosure procedure following a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in June that said authorities must obtain a warrant before asking telecom companies for customer information.

Telus said it received 4,315 court orders to hand over data, noting that each request could affect more than one customer. It said it challenges any order it believes is too broad, and a sampling of records suggested it handed over partial or no information in around 40 percent of those cases.

Toronto-based Rogers put out a transparency report in June that said it received 174,917 requests in 2013, including 74,415 court orders and 87,856 requests for basic customer information.

The disclosures from each carrier may not be comparable.   Continued...