Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Apple, Google, Microsoft Will Tell Public About Data Subpoenas

Posted By on Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 9:49 AM

The nation's largest and most influential tech companies have made an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department that allows the firms to publicly report, in very broad terms, what kind of—and how many—data requests they get from security and law enforcement agencies.

Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple already are required by U.S. law to share data about a fragment of their users, but the new agreement will allow the companies to alert the public about surveillance-related court orders that they receive in the future. The agreement is considered only a small victory for transparency advocates.

For example, on Jan. 27, Apple disclosed that between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2013, it had received somewhere between zero and 249 national security orders for consumer data. Apple also reported that it received 927 requests that involved 2,330 user accounts from law enforcement agencies that were not connected to national security requests.

"We believe strongly that our customers have the right to understand how their personal information is being handled, and we are pleased the government has developed new rules that allow us to more accurately report law enforcement orders and national security orders in the US," read a statement from Apple executives.

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