Verizon, the phone company whose disclosure of customer data to the federal government is at the center of the furor over cooperation by technology companies with top-secret national security programs, has offered a precise, clear, but little-noticed public explanation of why it did what it did.
The Verizon explanation is not in the vague and cryptic memo the company issued last week after the Guardian exposed its program. It came, instead, in the company’s annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, included in Verizon’s annual report to shareholders.
It said, “As part of the FCC’s approval of Vodaphone’s ownership interest, Verizon Wireless, Verizon, and Vodaphone entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation which imposes national security and law enforcement-related obligations on the ways in which Verizon Wireless stores information and otherwise conducts its business.”
I'm still not crazy about how Verizon is being singled out in all this. I can guarantee you that every carrier, big or small, along with every company that transmits data in some fashion, is taking part in this.