It looks like the tech companies are revolting against US government spooks and their demands for data.
According to the Washington Post, 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
This is getting them in trouble with prosecutors who believe such notifications can interfere with ongoing investigations and evidence gathering.
The Washington Post said that the industry is keen 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. The big four are following Yahoo which announced similar changes in July.
It will not stop the spooks from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or from National Security letters, which are automatically gagged as a matter of law, but it could cause a few headaches for internal spying.
Google already has its policy in place, which includes exemptions of imminent harm and criminal activity. It said in a statement:
It notifies users about legal demands when appropriate, unless prohibited by law or court order. Believe that, and you’ll believe anything.
Apple made a rare comment too, saying it would 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 working on revising its disclosure policies too.