Apple, others to defy U.S. government authorities, notify customers of secret data demands

“Major U.S. technology companies have largely ended the practice of quietly complying with investigators’ demands for e-mail records and other online data, saying that users have a right to know in advance when their information is targeted for government seizure,” Craig Timberg reports for The Washington Post.

“This increasingly defiant industry stand is giving some of the tens of thousands of Americans whose Internet data gets swept into criminal investigations each year the opportunity to fight in court to prevent disclosures,” Timberg reports. “Prosecutors, however, warn that tech companies may undermine cases by tipping off criminals, giving them time to destroy vital electronic evidence before it can be gathered.”

“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,” Timberg reports. “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.”

“As this position becomes uniform across the industry, U.S. tech companies will ignore the instructions stamped on the fronts of subpoenas urging them not to alert subjects about data requests, industry lawyers say,” Timberg reports. “Companies that already routinely notify users have found that investigators often drop data demands to avoid having suspects learn of inquiries. ‘It serves to chill the unbridled, cost-free collection of data,’ said Albert Gidari Jr., a partner at Perkins Coie who represents several technology companies. ‘And I think that’s a good thing.'”

Timberg reports, “The Justice Department disagrees, saying in a statement that new industry policies threaten investigations and put potential crime victims in greater peril.”

MacDailyNews Take: Blah, blah, blah. How’d you catch criminals before the Internet, geniuses?

Timberg reports, “The changing tech company policies do not affect data requests approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which are automatically kept secret by law. National security letters, which are administrative subpoenas issued by the FBI for national security investigations, also carry binding gag orders… ‘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,’ company spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said.”

“The changing legal standards of technology companies most directly affect federal, state and local criminal investigators, who have found that companies increasingly balk at data requests once considered routine,” Timberg reports. “Most now refuse to disclose the contents of e-mails or social media posts when presented with subpoenas, insisting that the government instead seek search warrants, which are issued only by judges and require the stricter legal standard of probable cause… Ronald T. Hosko, a former FBI special agent who until his recent retirement oversaw the criminal division at the Washington field office, said the development of cases has been hurt by the threat of user notification, especially during early phases when investigators try to work discreetly, before a suspect potentially can destroy evidence. ‘My fear is that we will be less secure in our country, in our houses, because of political decisions, because of the politics of the day, rather than what will keep us safe,’ Hosko said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: A step in the right direction. The DOJ should take a breather and read the U.S. Constitution. There’s a first time for everything.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. – Ronald Reagan, March 30, 1961

Visit the Apple-backed today.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

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    1. It’s not just the Feds. The local and state PoPo is tracking your license plates in a database and the info is shared by everybody from Officer Friendly to the guys and gals in D.C.

      Government is the biggest buyer of the for profit data miners and many times they buy data sets that they are not allowed to collect by statutes that predate the internet. Otherwise they can buy what the law did not want them to have in the first place.

      1. “Blah, blah, blah. How’d you catch criminals before the Internet, geniuses?”

        Actually, this is EXACTLY what they were doing before, only the companies receiving them [AT&T, the rest of the telephone companies, and other companies operating on a national level] were simply going along with what the gov’t requested.

        This kind of pushback is new [at least, it’s certainly new that it is getting reported].

  1. For all the money our governments- Federal through local-spend on intelligence, security and policing we get comparatively little except to have our civil liberties trampled. Our Intel people have missed every major upheaval unless they were pulling the strings. They missed the Arab Israeli Wars, collapse of the Shah in Iran, the collapse of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, the Invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, and on and on through the tragedy of 9-11,

    Anybody who studies history- even informally- knows nothing is as corrupt as a priesthood. Just as the IT priesthood made Bill Gates & Company filthy rich passing off a second rate copy of Mac OS, our nation is a dog being wagged by it’s defense, intelligence and police agencies. They want you to be afraid- very afraid- and to sign off on a hidden black budget few ever get to see that becomes a bigger and bigger part of our government expenditures,

    Most of our politicians of both the red and blue pill brands suck up to the National Security State, the National Surveillance State and the National Prison for Profit Complex. For all the money and all the staff and all the equipment we are no safer than if it all were to go away. Despite all the fusion centers and ever more militarized police, we are all vulnerable to some random guy with a bag of guns and no purpose in life or some paranoid fantasy. If vacuuming up the internet to store on huge server farms behind barbed wire was going to make us safer we would be and we are not.

    For all of this we are a poorer nation. poorer in freedom, poorer in civil liberties, poorer in spirit, poorer in tract for our neighbors, poorer in our pocket book and poorer in a democracy corrupted by the combination of secrecy, unaccountability, money and fear mongering. We were and are not a fearful people. From The Boston Massacre to the Freedom Riders to Stonewall and lots of other places and times, Americans of every stripe have stepped up and called bullshit when they had enough. They were not given their rights- they demanded them and were willing to do what it took to gain or maintain them. That does not come from fear- that comes from hope and a desire for a better future for ourselves, our families and our nation.

    This is an election year and we need to let every politician asking for our vote that we want this continuous march toward a militarized surveillance/police/incarceration state stopped and rolled back. It does not matter what your politics are as people on both sides are concerned about this. Both the liberal and the libertarian are deeply troubled about this and it is time we joined forces.

    I am glad that Apple is tired of this shit, because I am as well.

    1. Very well put sir, a very nice reading and helps me maintain my faith that the American people can rise above this situation in the long run.

  2. Bless you:

    Major U.S. technology companies have largely ended the practice of quietly complying with investigators’ demands


    Users have a right to know in advance when their information is targeted for government seizure

    AND WHY. #MyStupidGovernment has DESTROYED its own credibility, both Retardlicans AND Democraps. Both parties are worthess puppet pawns of the financial game players, blatantly ignoring the single most fundamental laws of my nation.

    This is the start of the revolution: FACTS in the face of the traitorous FELONS ruining my country. We The People run this place, dammit!

    Now back to a pleasant glass of wine and soothing music while working on my Apple gear…

    1. Oh and fellow US citizens, let’s not skip one of my other favorite quotes:

      To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
      – Theodore Roosevelt – Kansas City Star (7 May 1918)

  3. Which is scarier?

    1. A bomb goes off at the Boston Marathon (no amount of U.S. Constitution trampling seems to have stopped that, BTW) and kills 3 and injures 264 in a city with an urban area population of 4.18 million.


    2. A bomb goes off and the governor advises a city with an urban population of 4.18 million to “shelter-in-place,” meaning residents were told not to leave their homes as officers in tactical gear moved freely about the area, helicopters circled overhead, SWAT teams in armored vehicles moved through their neighborhoods in formation, with officers going door-to-door, while the entire public transit network, as well as most Boston taxi service, was suspended, along with Amtrak service to and from Boston and the vast majority of citizens* obeyed like docile sheep?

    *most of them were actual U.S. citizens, not including the area restaurants’ kitchen help and the landscapers, of course.

    1. 2, of course. This ain’t the Soviet Union. A lot of people – city dwellers especially – seem to have forgotten what the U.S.A. is and what it stands for. I’ll spell it out for you:


      Don’t tread on me. Give me liberty or give me death.

    2. When I watched the police free for all in Boston last year I was astonished to see the sheeple, our commercial media and our national political leadership act like it was the most normal thing in the world. This in the very location where our nation’s revolution began.

      The same is true of the largely peaceful protesters involved in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations around the country where the Fusion Centers deployed every technology on citizens peacefully protesting in public places. Various agencies planted agents provocateurs to incite crowds to lawbreaking to discredit the group and the movement. In many jurisdictions police- including supervisors of the NYPD (white shirts) beat and manhandled unarmed and non-violent protesters, observers and passers by. Oakland just paid out millions to a GWOT Veteran who had his skull fractured by the Oakland PD, as his was recorded on multiple cameras for all to see. Many were not so fortunate.

      Someone needs to tell the police in this country that we are not “civilians” we are citizens and they are just as civilian as we are. Posse Comitatus limits the use of Military Police and Federal Troops except in times of invasion or declared insurrection, giving that charge to civil police- the guys dressed like Rambo in tanks calling us civilians. Someone needs to give these officers a lesson in the fact that they are civil servants charged with protecting & serving the public- not harassing it.

  4. That is ballsy, let us see what the next move from the US government is and more importantly how long will these com-panies be able to stand up against them.

  5. The ‘freedom’ the posts above are advocating has driven the US indoors behind steel bars on windows and doors surrounded by high concrete walls and guards at the gate. The criminals roam the streets and ‘good’ people hide at home with guns to ‘protect their freedom’.

    Why isn’t it obvious that your constitution is misinterpreted or even just plain wrong in claiming the right to privacy. This document was written in an era when the British and European governments were repressing certain religious groups and using MISINFORMATION to justify their actions.

    The time has come to wake up and realize that there must be a better way and that way is not totalitarianism or communism or capitalism. Use you brains and look for the better way. Be objective and focus on what is needed rather than what doesn’t work and trying to twist it into something that does sort of work.

    1. Screw you, you C3PO, you commie. Capitalism and the constitution are the only way to go. It’s what took everyone out of the stone age you moron.

      1. I thought name calling is what took us out of the stone age. Reading has little to do with it either. You must be the pinnacle of education by the succinct way you write. Independent thinking must be horribly overrated.

    2. A small L liberal, living in Canada, where you can’t wipe your ass without the go ahead from the Prime Minister, has absolutely no credulity when it comes to giving advice to downtrodden Americans.

  6. Gutsy of Apple, don’t you think. Be careful the government backlash though because they have a menu of options to choose from, including:
    – Bizarre DoJ lawsuits claiming conspiracy to price fix
    – High taxation on repatriated profits
    – Courts turning blind eyes towards the transgressions of foreign companies against your interests
    – Even court-appointed monitors inserted into your corporate offices

    It could happen, Apple!

  7. “Prosecutors, however, warn that tech companies may undermine cases by tipping off criminals, giving them time to destroy vital electronic evidence before it can be gathered.”

    So, just get a judge to order he account frozen while both sides argue it in court.

  8. I always get uncomfortable and suspicious when that self-righteous dimwit Ronald Reagan is quoted as a source of something…😱😁

  9. Just curious how many of the commenters here who tout the Bill of Rights on an issue like this (or one dealing with the 1st Amendment) will also support the 2nd Amendment.

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