Shareholders Ask Verizon and AT&T to Report on Government Requests for Customer Information

PR Newswire

BOSTON, Nov. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Adding the investor voice to the government surveillance debate, shareholders of Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and AT&T (NYSE:T) 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. These proposals bring the discussion squarely in front of corporate management and boards of directors.

Global concern over U.S. government surveillance programs has provoked international press coverage as well as U.S. Congressional and European legislative hearings, and widespread calls for reform.

Trillium Asset Management, on behalf of the Park Foundation, is the lead filer on the proposal with Verizon. Trillium is also a co-filer on the AT&T proposal. The lead filer of the AT&T resolution is the New York State Common Retirement Fund, which manages assets on behalf of more than one million State employees and retirees. 

Responding to growing public concern companies, including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo!, Twitter and LinkedIn, have published "Transparency Reports" disclosing information on government data requests. Additionally, Google and Microsoft have sued seeking authorization to disclose further information to the public concerning these requests. Neither Verizon nor AT&T has taken either step.

"Verizon and AT&T are not managing this crisis effectively," said Jonas Kron, Trillium's Director of Shareholder Advocacy.  "Now is the time for these companies to demonstrate that they will protect user privacy, because it is in the interest of everyone – investors, citizens, our nation and the companies.  Failure to persuade customers of a genuine and long-term commitment to privacy could impede growth – but equally important are the civil liberties that must be protected."

Shareholders are requesting that the companies disclose how often the company has shared information with U.S. or foreign government entities; what type of customer information was shared; the number of customers affected; the type of government requests; and discussion of efforts by Verizon to protect customer privacy rights.

ABOUT TRILLIUM ASSET MANAGEMENT, LLC: Trillium Asset Management is the oldest independent investment advisor devoted exclusively to sustainable and responsible investing. With over $1.3 billion in assets under management, Trillium has been managing equity and fixed income investments for high net worth individuals, foundations, endowments, religious institutions, and other nonprofits, since 1982. A leader in shareholder advocacy and public policy work, Trillium's goal is to deliver both impact and performance to its investors.

The views expressed are those of the authors as of the date referenced and are subject to change at any time based on market or other conditions. These views are not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results. These views may not be relied upon as investment advice. The information provided in this material should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any of the securities mentioned. It should not be assumed that investments in such securities have been or will be profitable. To the extent specific securities are mentioned, they have been selected by the authors on an objective basis to illustrate views expressed in the commentary and do not represent all of the securities purchased, sold or recommended for advisory clients. The information contained herein has been prepared from sources believed reliable but is not guaranteed by us as to its timeliness or accuracy, and is not a complete summary or statement of all available data. This piece is for informational purposes and should not be construed as a research report.

For more information contact:  Jonas Kron: Trillium Asset Management, (503) 592-0864, jkron@trilliuminvest.com

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