Left-leaning phone company issues transparency report

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A small telecommunications company is the first to release a report about the number of times it has had to turn over information about its customers to the government.

The liberal phone company CREDO Mobile said that the release is part of an effort to increase transparency around National Security Agency (NSA) snooping.

“CREDO has a decades-long record fighting for the civil liberties, not just of our phone customers, but of all Americans,” chief executive Michael Kieschnick said in a statement. “Despite the shocking revelations of NSA abuses, the U.S. government continues to defend unconstitutional programs to systematically spy on Americans. So it’s up to companies like ours to lift the curtain to the extent allowed by law and fight for our customers’ constitutional rights.”

The firm reportedly serves about 125,000 subscribers and received 16 local, state and federal government queries about information in 2013, according to its report. One of those involved an emergency request.

CREDO supports repeal of laws like the Patriot Act that give the government authority to search communications records, and has also pushed environmental and gay rights causes.

The California-based telecommunications company is the first to release a transparency report, but won’t be the only one. Verizon announced in December that it is planning to release its first semi-annual transparency report in “early 2014.” Soon after, AT&T announced that it, too, would soon release a report about government requests it had received.

Major telecommunications companies have come under fire to disclose data about government queries for consumers’ data in the wake of disclosures about the NSA’s surveillance from former contractor Edward Snowden. Documents revealed by Snowden showed that federal officials are collecting information about all Americans’ calls.

Internet companies like Google have published transparency records about government data requests in recent years, but they have tried to disclose more. Legislation to reform the NSA in Congress would allow tech companies to publish more specific information about the requests they receive.

The transparency reports do not include orders sent in national security letters, which companies are barred from disclosing.