The reforms draw on revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, including the disclosure of close ties between spy agencies and technology firms. Verizon nodded to the concerns in its statement and called on "governments around the world to provide more information on the types and amounts of data they collect and the legal processes that apply when they do so."
Verizon promised to publish online reports with data on the number of law enforcement requests for customer information it receives in the United States and other countries in which it does business.
(Read more: NSA mayhave penetrated Internet cable links)
It said it would publish its first report early next year with data on 2013 requests. Verizon will update the information twice a year after that to provide more transparency.
Previously, Verizon tended to disclose such data in response to ad hoc requests from legislators rather than broadly publishing the data.
Verizon's move toward greater disclosure follows similar initiatives from tech companies such as Google and Yahoo. (Disclosure: CNBC has a content-sharing partnership with Yahoo's finance site.) Silicon Valley, worried about a customer backlash, has also called for greater transparency around U.S. government requests for user information. Until now, telephone companies like Verizon had been much less outspoken than their technology and Internet counterparts.
A Verizon spokesman, Robert Varettoni, said the company was already making plans for an online transparency report before it received the shareholder requests in November.
Still, advocates including Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey, praised Verizon's approach as a way to make disclosures more routine. Markey, a Democrat, had been tracking growing government use of wireless surveillance.
(Read more: Judge toNSA: No, you cannot collect bulk phone records)
"Verizon is taking an important step toward transparency, and I call on the other wireless carriers to follow its lead and regularly disclose their law enforcement requests for wireless information," Markey said in a statement.
Balancing act: Privacy vs. security
Verizon shareholders had proposed a proxy resolution for the company's springtime shareholder meeting, calling for it to issue reports on its cooperation with government agencies.
One of the proxy resolution's backers, Jonas Kron of Trillium Asset Management in Boston, said Verizon's plan looked positive, at least at first glance.
"It appears they've really embraced our concerns," Kron said in a telephone interview.