Comcast Issues First “Transparency Report”

Tells the public how often investigators seek consumer information.

Comcast received nearly 25,000 government requests for customer information in 2013, the company said Thursday in its first-ever “transparency report.

“Protecting our customers’ privacy is among our highest priorities and is required by the Cable Act, one of the strictest federal privacy laws,” Gerard Lewis, a senior vice president and chief privacy officer, wrote in a blog post accompanying the report. “So with every request, whether it is from a local police department or the Federal Bureau of Investigation, we make sure it complies with applicable legal standards before we respond with any information.”

The investigative requests break down as follows:

• 19,377 subpoenas
• 3,893 general court orders
• 93 pen register/trace and tap orders that seek out email or phone number information in real time
• 2 wire taps
• 1,333 warrants
• 961 emergency requests

The information gives the first overview of Comcast’s cooperation with the government, but its report doesn’t go as deep as some other companies in the field. Apple, for example, offers how many government requests it received — but also offers an overview of how often it objected to government requests, and how often information was actually shared. Comcast did not share such information in its report.

Comcast also received fewer than 1,000 national security requests; the company is not allowed to specify precisely how many it received. Lewis wrote the company will issue new reports every six months.