February 18, 2014
Weeks after the U.S. Attorney General issued guidance allowing tech and telecom companies to provide slightly more information about federal law enforcement requests, AT&T has issued its first accounting of these queries. And according to the data, the Death Star received national security letters dealing with up to 5,000 accounts in all of 2013, while court orders issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act during the first half of 2013 were tied to more than 35,000 accounts.
According to AT&T’s explanation of these requests, the national security letters are subpoenas from the FBI regarding “counterterrorism or counterintelligence” that are limited to non-content information, like phone numbers dialed or information about the subscriber.
Because the law prohibits AT&T from providing a specific number on these requests, the company can only say that it received between 2,000 and 2,999 national security letters in 2013. These letters covered requests for between 4,000 and 4,999 accounts.