Apple, Google, Microsoft increasingly defying U.S. government, informing customers of data demands

If the government demands your personal, private email or other data, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple, and others are reportedly taking steps to notify you faster and more frequently than they did in the past. That's putting them at odds with prosecutors who believe such notifications can interfere with ongoing investigations and evidence gathering. The Washington Post:

Fueling the shift is the industry's eagerness to distance itself from the government after last year's disclosures about National Security Agency surveillance of online services. Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google all are updating their policies to expand routine notification of users about government data seizures, unless specifically gagged by a judge or other legal authority, officials at all four companies said. Yahoo announced similar changes in July.

These new policies, however, don't affect data requests from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or from National Security letters, which are automatically gagged as a matter of law.

Google already has their policy in place, which includes exemptions of imminent harm and criminal activity. They said in a statement:

We notify users about legal demands when appropriate, unless prohibited by law or court order.

Apple's statement:

Later this month, Apple will update its policies so that in most cases when law enforcement requests personal information about a customer, the customer will receive a notification from Apple.

Microsoft is likewise working on revising their disclosure policies.

For much more on the matter and its implications, see the link below. Then let me know — how comfortable are you with the way companies handle disclosing demands for your information?

Source: The Washington Post

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie has been covering the personal technology industry for almost a decade. Editorial Director at Mobile Nations, analyst at iMore, video and podcast host, you can follow him @reneritchie on Snapchat, Instagram, or Twitter.