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Apple and Other Firms to Begin Notifying Users when Law Enforcement Requests Information About Them

Apple and Other Firms to Begin Notifying Users when Law Enforcement Requests Information About Them

Apple and other tech firms will begin notifying their users of secret personal data requests from law enforcement officials. Prosecutors are unhappy with the move, saying it could tip-off criminals, allowing them to destroy potential evidence.

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The Washington Post, via MacRumors:

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.

The Post notes that some companies who already notify users of government requests have found that investigators drop their data requests to avoid the suspect finding out about the inquiries.

Typical search warrants in the United States require the police to notify the suspect they are being searched. However there are “sneak-and-peek” warrants that are issued that allow investigators to search a suspects house or property without notification. Use of this type of warrant has been expanded under the so-called PATRIOT Act to allow the Federal Government to issue such warrants for almost any type of crime.

Apple’s changes will be unveiled in an updated privacy policy later this month, and an Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet told the Post that users will be notified in “most cases” when information is requested by a government agency. Apple would not notify users if the data requests come from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or from subpoenas from the FBI for national security investigations. 

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