One of the shifts that we have seen in the tech industry since the first NSA revelations began to come out is that major companies are trying to let users know more about the type of data requests they receive from the government. Laws are currently in place in the United States that prevent companies from sharing exact data request statistics but now, some companies are going to share as much information as possible with individual users.
The policies of Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google will all be updated to reflect the new position on data requests. Unless an official has specifically prevented the companies from sharing the information, they will notify users that a request has occurred.
Apple, Google, and others will no longer keep the requests hidden unless they would be breaking the law to do so. While this is likely to anger law enforcement officials, the entire tech industry has been forced to radically change in order to keep users happy in the wake of the NSA revelations that were facilitated by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
The Justice Department has already responded to the industry-wide policy changes by stating that they will negatively impact the ability for law enforcement to do their job when investigating a suspect. Since there is no law in place regarding these notifications, subpoenas usually include a request to avoid telling users that their data is being looked at.
These risks of endangering life, risking destruction of evidence, or allowing suspects to flee or intimidate witnesses are not merely hypothetical, but unfortunately routine, – Peter Carr, spokesperson, Justice Department
Until now, the tech companies have generally played along with those subpoena requests but that is no longer the way that things will work.
Even though the NSA revelations are not centered around law enforcement data requests that everyone knows about, the US has made changes to try and make snooping by government agencies more overt. As a result, the agencies will have to ask for data more frequently, which only means that Apple, Google, and others will be notifying more users.
Summary: Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook are updating their policies. The update is occurring so that they can notify users whenever a law enforcement agency requests data regarding that user.
image credit: poster boy