A coalition of investors, which had requested that Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) publish regular reports on government and law enforcement requests for confidential customer data, today commended the company for publishing its first report and made recommendations for improving future reports.
In a victory for shareholders concerned about the role of telecommunications companies in government surveillance programs, Verizon Communications announced that it will begin to publish regular reports on the number of government requests it receives for customer data.
The move came nearly a month after institutional investors filed proposals with Verizon and AT&T demanding that the companies issue semiannual reports on government information requests.
Welcome to Open MIC
|The Open Media and Information Companies Initiative – Open MIC – is a non-profit organization working to promote a vibrant, diverse media ecosystem through market-based solutions.
The guiding insight of Open MIC is that the media values we promote as citizens are the same as those we seek as investors: diversity and competition, creativity and innovation, openness and transparency.
We believe that a dynamic, open and critical media sector is good for both the business of media and the health of democratic society.
Open MIC fosters dialogue among media companies, investors, consumers and creators with the goal of developing successful and responsible media practices for the digital age.
It’s no secret that the world of media is being transformed as digital technologies change how people and nations communicate and entertain, do business and govern. But as old and new media undergo this transformation, there is deep concern as to how the promise of the digital age will be fulfilled. Consolidation within the media industry over the last century has created a monoculture that is dangerously uncritical and uninformative. Many of the same trends can be seen emerging in the realm of digital media as well. And that, simply put, is bad for both business and democracy.
Open MIC aims to generate provocative discussion and debate about the future of media, highlighting the importance of private-sector and capital-market mechanisms in shaping a more positive future. Essential to that process is community-powered, networked dialogue which draws on the experience, insight and opinions of consumers and creators of media.
Current Open MIC initiatives include:
Founded in late 2006, Open MIC is a project of the Tides Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
The Open MIC Blog
Citing intense global concern over the impact of disclosures regarding surveillance programs directed by the U.S. government agencies, investors in AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) have filed shareholder proposals calling on the companies to publish semi-annual reports detailing how often they have shared information with U.S. or foreign governments and what type of customer information has been shared.
The prime sponsor of the AT&T proposal is the $160.7 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, which manages assets on behalf of more than one million State employees and retirees. Trillium Asset Management LLC, a Boston-based investment management firm, is the lead proponent of the Verizon. Other investment firms and organizations – including the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California – co-filed at one or both of the companies.
There is no "safe haven" for investors when it comes to privacy and data security, as clear risks exist for companies of all shapes and sizes. The onus is on investors to question how management is dealing with these issues. If companies aren't adequately addressing privacy and data security risks – and there's abundant evidence that's the case – shareholders need to highlight the gravity of the issue. For the 21st century digital economy to thrive, we all need assurance our personal secrets are, indeed, safe.
About one-quarter of all Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) shareholder votes were cast in favor of a proposal that asks the company to report on business risks from Verizon’s controversial FCC lawsuit and other actions to oppose open Internet and network neutrality principles.