AT&T is hopping on the transparency report train. When will T-Mobile and Sprint follow suit?

December 20, 2013

(Rick Wilking/Reuters)

A day after Verizon became the first telecom company to start issuing transparency reports, AT&T has announced today that it's doing the same. This is huge news for an industry that has shown itself very willing to cooperate with the government without telling the rest of us how they're doing it.

The report will look much like those provided by Silicon Valley companies. Here's what AT&T plans to offer, beginning in "early 2014":

1. The total number of law enforcement requests it receives from federal, state and local authorities
2. A breakdown of that figure by request type: subpoenas, court orders and warrants
3. The number of customers affected
4. "Details about the legal demands AT&T receives, as well as information about requests for information in emergencies."

Item #3 is especially important, because as I've explained before, it provides more perspective on the impact of the requests in a way that the overall number of requests can't by itself.

Now that two of the four big national wireless carriers have gotten on board, the question is whether T-Mobile and Sprint will follow suit. I've reached out to both companies and will update when I hear back.

Update: Sprint has declined to comment.
Another update: In an e-mailed response, T-Mobile tells me it's now "carefully considering additional transparency" in light of AT&T and Verizon's announcements.

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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