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Apple to routinely inform users of government data requests

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
It was reported on Thursday that Apple will be joining a growing cadre of big-name tech companies that are revising privacy policies regarding "secret" requests for user data, a move opposing the U.S. government's recommendations.

Requests
From Apple's January report on government surveillance requests.


Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google are planning to inform users of government data seizures on a more routine basis unless a gag order is handed down from the appropriate authorities, reports The Washington Post.

While the exact details and rollout timeline for the policy shift have not yet been announced, the tech companies are making a concerted effort to keep customers up to date on the most recent Internet, email records and other personal data requests. Lawyers are reportedly still hammering out certain policy revisions.

"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," said spokesperson Kristin Huguet.

The initiative comes in the wake of public disclosures concerning the extent of government surveillance. Brought about by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the programs revealed consisted mainly of national security measures, though tech companies took the opportunity to bolster consumer relations by ensuring customers that their data was safe.

As explained by The Post, the push for transparent privacy operations has become more than a hassle for agencies involved in criminal investigations. A number of cases taken to federal appeals courts have set precedent, effectively shielding companies from having to hand over data without subpoenas or search warrants.

In some cases, companies will turn over anonymous content usage information, but tell investigators that users will be notified of the request prior to disclosure. Law enforcement agencies say the practice gives time for criminals to delete incriminating records, thus hindering an investigation.

The new policies have forced investigators to either drop subpoenaed data requests or seek gag orders, the latter of which has become increasingly difficult post-Snowden.

"It's sort of a double whammy that makes law enforcement's job harder," said Jason M. Weinstein, a former Justice Department deputy assistant attorney general. "It has the potential to significantly impair investigations."

Apple has released surveillance request reports in the past, the most recent of which came in January. With the new policies, the company would reportedly release these updated informational documents on a more regular basis.
post #2 of 10
All this secrecy is dumb. We need to grow up as a species.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #3 of 10
Wow- notifying users prior for each request? I have to say that I'm shocked Apple is planning to do this, and that its even allowed.
post #4 of 10
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post
All this secrecy is dumb. We need to grow up as a species.

 

I don’t remember Irish humor being like this.

 

Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post
that its even allowed.

 

I’m to understand the government hates that people are allowed to know they’re being searched.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #5 of 10
On one hand, I think its good to keep users informed, otoh it's harder for law enforcement to collect evidence without alerting the target. Then again, perhaps it will end "fishing expeditions".
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

Wow- notifying users prior for each request? I have to say that I'm shocked Apple is planning to do this, and that its even allowed.

Indeed. I can't imagine the government will let this go ahead.

post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

Wow- notifying users prior for each request? I have to say that I'm shocked Apple is planning to do this, and that its even allowed.
Twitter started doing so in 2011 and was widely praised for it. Google and Dropbox followed suit in 2012. These companies plus recent additions like Apple and large providers such as Microsoft are now formalizing and detailing their policies.They all need to stand together on this.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/apple-facebook-others-defy-authorities-increasingly-notify-users-of-secret-data-demands-after-snowden-revelations/2014/05/01/b41539c6-cfd1-11e3-b812-0c92213941f4_story.html
melior diabolus quem scies
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melior diabolus quem scies
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post #8 of 10

"... tell investigators that users will be notified of the request prior to disclosure. Law enforcement agencies say the practice gives time for criminals to delete incriminating records, thus hindering an investigation."

 

The law-enforcement complaints are without much merit. If they have probable cause then they can get a warrant and that might contain a gag order. And Apple will comply with that.

 

But mostly they do not have probable cause and are getting data using just a subpoena. There is no judicial oversight or review of any kind.

 

Apple's position is right - if the demand for data, either warrant or subpoena, needs to be secret then get a Judge to order it. Otherwise, the person gets to know.

post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLite View Post

Indeed. I can't imagine the government will let this go ahead.

The government will just have all requests made with a gag order attached or the NSA will snoop on their own. This is just to make people feel like their privacy rights are being protected by these tech companies. Nothing will change unfortunately.
post #10 of 10
If the government agency has a warrant, then they can prevent Apple from disclosing to the customer in question. If it's a blanket info request and NO warrant in involved, Uncle Sam is SOL.
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