India asks Verizon to block access to websites

Written by PTI | Washington | Updated: Jan 23 2014, 23:51pm hrs
VerizonIndia is among five countries which made a request to US telecom giant Verizon to block access to certain websites.
India had asked American telecom giant Verizon to block access to certain websites in the country last year, the company has claimed.

Verizon, which became the first major US telecom carrier to release a "transparency report" according to which it received 320,000 data queries last year from the US, however, did not reveal the details of the websites which were blocked.

"We were required to block access to websites in India but are precluded by law from identifying the specific number of websites," the Verizon yesterday said, adding that India was one of the five countries which had made such a request.

"On occasion, we are required by government orders, regulations or other legal requirements to block access to specified websites outside the US. While we have not received such blocking demands in the United States, we did receive such demands in five countries in 2013," it said.

"In Colombia, we were required to block access to approximately 1,200 websites that the Colombian government believed contained child pornography. In Greece, we were required to block 424 sites related to online gambling," it said.

"We were also required to block websites in Belgium (37) and Portugal (2) related to online gambling or copyright issues," Verizon said, adding that these figures relate to the number of websites it was required to block access to in 2013.

"We may be required to block access to such websites for an ongoing period of time, but we count such demands only for the year in which they were initially made," it said.

Verizon said that in 2013, it did not receive any demands from the US government for data stored in other countries.

"We received a small number of requests last year from non-US governments for data stored in the United States, all of which were referred to the MLAT process," it said.

Verizon said in 2013, it received approximately 320,000 requests for customer information from federal, state or local law enforcement in the United States.

"We do not release customer information unless authorized by law, such as a valid law enforcement demand or an appropriate request in an emergency involving the danger of death or serious physical injury," it said.

Verizon said it also received emergency requests and National Security Letters.

"The vast majority of these various types of demands relate to our consumer customers; we receive relatively few demands regarding our enterprise customers," it said.

Verizon said it received approximately 164,000 subpoenas from law enforcement in the US last year and about 70,000 court orders, 36,000 warrants, 14,500 warrants for stored content and between 1,000 and 2,000 National Security Letters.